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Afghan Parliament Speaker Optimistic about Peace Prospects

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TEHRAN, March 10 (ICANA) – Newly elected Afghan parliament speaker Abdul Rahoof Ibrahimi said he is optimistic about prospects for peace talks with the Taliban, adding the time is ripe for a lasting peace.
Thursday, March 10, 2011 8:03:15 PM
Afghan Parliament Speaker Optimistic about Peace Prospects

An ethnic Uzbek from the northern province of Kunduz, Ibrahimi was elected parliament speaker February 27. In an interview with Central Asia Online, his first with the international media, Ibrahimi said his origins – he is an ethnic Uzbek from northern Afghanistan – underscore the changes occurring in the country.

“The fact that someone from a minority group can hold a high position such as the speaker of parliament shows the unity of the Afghan people as a whole,” Ibrahimi said. “We are not Uzbeks, Turkmen or Tajiks – we are all Afghans who are ready to work for a common cause: establishing peace and order and rebuilding our war-torn homeland.”

The new parliament’s main agenda will be establishing a durable peace.

Afghans are tired of war

“The people of Afghanistan, including those in the opposition fighting the government, are tired of the 30-year-old war,” Ibrahimi said. “Everybody in Afghanistan is aware that one cannot achieve anything by force – our three-decade-long war experience has showed it clearly.”

The creation of the High Peace Council and efforts to achieve lasting peace have the support of everyone involved – the Afghan government, the international community and the Taliban, Ibrahimi said. That is why the time for peace is ripe.

“We (have been) talking to the Taliban for some time,” he said. “A delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council travelled recently to Turkey, and Turkish leaders expressed their support for peace with the Taliban.

“What we need is now a lasting peace in Afghanistan. With the help of our international allies, we will achieve it,” Ibrahimi said.

Many factions inside the Taliban with whom we are in contact are also ready for direct talks with the Kabul government if their conditions are met.”

While Ibrahimi refused to discuss which Taliban factions have entered into dialogue with the government or divulge all of their conditions for security reasons, he said it was important for everyone to understand “that the Taliban is a part of the Afghan nation.”

With the Afghan government taking on more responsibility for the country’s security and gaining more autonomy, dialogue with the Taliban is becoming easier, Ibrahimi said.

He added that parliament provides an excellent venue to continue dialogue for every group.

Different factions are talking to each other

“Afghans are in a position to put their differences aside and make peace,” he said. “People who had problems with each other in the past – mujahideen commanders, ex-communists, women, tribal elders – sit side by side and talk to each other. We can also include the Taliban in this combination. They are Afghan like us, and I am sure they want the same thing we want: a peaceful Afghanistan free from war and terror and as prosperous as possible.”

It’s understandable that some Afghan ethnic groups, especially the northern Uzbeks, Turkmen and Hazaras, might be fearful of a dialogue with the Taliban and of their participation in the government, Ibrahimi said.

“I am an Uzbek from the north, and we had bitter experiences with the Taliban. We had the same experiences with communists. We tried to destroy each other in the past, but now we work with them. I don’t say the fears of northern groups are totally baseless, but we are capable of overcoming our differences and coming together for the benefit of our homeland.”

After 2014, when the Afghan government will assume full responsibility for its security, Ibrahimi said, the country’s democratic institutions will ensure a lasting peace.

“In the past nine years since the fall of the Taliban, we have made lots of progress in terms of democracy, human rights. Our constitution guarantees the equality of men and women, millions of girls go to school, women are free to work in every field of life, we have an elected government and parliament, our security forces are getting better day by day. We have free media.

“What we need is now a lasting peace in Afghanistan. With the help of our international allies, we will achieve it,” Ibrahimi said.“What we need is now a lasting peace in Afghanistan. With the help of our international allies, we will achieve it. I assure you, by 2014 the world will see an Afghanistan free from war and terror and peaceful and as prosperous as possible.” 

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