Thursday, 27 May 2010

Peace Now in Afghanistan

By Sher Yahya
Afghanistan is bleeding and we fear it could bleed to death.
We, the initiators of this international appeal, are desperate about the situation in our home country. We now see it as our duty to alert the public: If the international forces in Afghanistan do not change course dramatically, this country will be destroyed to its foundations in the long run.
Even moderate, non-political Afghans, people who want nothing more than to protect themselves and provide a livelihood and a peaceful life for their families, are driven into the arms of the Taliban.
"Operation Moshtarak" in Helmand province was not only launched to fight terrorism, as is being claimed over and over. Almost at random, countless regional and local tribal leaders have been killed. It seems as if the aim is to eradicate all leading figures. This cannot be the meaning of “democracy”, which is said to be installed in Afghanistan.
Largely unnoticed by the world public, similar actions have been committed in other provinces as well. In Kandahar province, about 2,500 members of the leadership have been killed since 2001, of whom we have listed 353 by name. All of them terrorists, all of them members of the Taliban? A society beheaded in this way has little chance of gaining stability again, even if complete peace were to be achieved.
We, the initiators of this appeal, are Afghans living in Afghanistan, but also Afghans living in exile, scattered across many countries. We are not extremists. We do not advocate violence and we condemn all forms of terrorism. We hold regular jobs and are respected citizens. Our concern about the events in Afghanistan is so great that we cannot remain silent any longer. We want to emphasize that we belong to different ethnic groups. We do not want to advocate the dominance of a single group. We are all convinced that the future of Afghanistan lies in a new coexistence of ethnic groups, as it existed in this country in the past. Our case has the support of highly respected persons in Afghanistan who could provide valuable contributions to achieving peace and to rebuilding the country.
We know that we have no power, but we need to raise our voices and call on the acting powers in the United States as well as in Europe, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and in Afghanistan, to ensure that reason prevails.
The case of Vietnam shows that national self-determination has been and will remain the nemesis for any imperial hybris. The international community will not succeed in Afghanistan if it offends or suppresses the Afghans' national pride, whether religious or secular.
Vietnam has taught the lesson that an imperial power cannot achieve much against a people that has nothing much to lose. The nation state of Afghanistan may be badly designed, but in terms of determination, the Afghan population is much less at a disadvantage than the imbalance in material resources would suggest. A condescending attitude would not only be inappropriate, it would breed resentment. Afghans know that they have successfully fought at least two superpowers, the British and the Russians. It is hard to see why it should be different this time.
Our goal is not the immediate expulsion of "infidels". We do not hate the U.S., even if their policy does fuel such feelings.
We are, however, deeply convinced that a solution to the current conflict in Afghanistan is only possible on the basis of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right of self-determination of this country. It cannot be tolerated that the elected government of the country has virtually no say in elementary decisions, with foreign powers setting the course. How should Afghans develop respect of their elected representatives if these people are being discredited and ridiculed by foreign powers almost every day? How can a government be expected to succeed in the fight against corruption, if it is being demonstrated every day that it is not master in its own house?
At the same time, we cannot and will not accept the interference of our so-called religious brothers from Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
For the first time in many years, the relevant groups in Afghanistan engage in a substantial effort to conduct serious peace negotiations. This is a great opportunity for Afghanistan, perhaps the only one for years to come. But how should these talks lead to success if the negotiating partners are arrested, immediately after meeting with representatives of the President? In this way, peace talks are being torpedoed and systematically sabotaged. Who is interested in such actions and what is the aim of those responsible? In this way, any effort to stabilize Afghanistan is thwarted.
We do not defend terrorism. But whoever wants to achieve peace will have to negotiate with the Taliban. This also means that Taliban leaders who have been imprisoned will at some point have to be released.
After more than three decades of war, Afghanistan has had enough of bloodshed. Afghanistan needs peace - now!This international appeal is supported by the following persons:
(List of names to be added)

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