Afghanistan today stands at a turning point.

Direct talks between the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement on 12 September 2020, is evidence that Afghanistan is at a critical juncture where despite myriad domestic and external challenges, a narrow window of opportunity for achieving a resolution of the conflict is emerging. 

During his opening speech at the event, Chairman of Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), Dr Abdullah Abdullah, described the moment as an "exceptional opportunity to achieve peace and to together define a new future that is acceptable and supported by all citizens of Afghanistan." 

Now that the two sides meet around one table without third parties, it is perhaps the closest one gets to a real Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process. 

I am optimistic that we can overcome our differences while talking, listening, sharing our positions, debating our viewpoints, and at times agree to disagree while respecting each other's opposite or different views. We all know the enormity of the task ahead of us and the necessity of charting a shared future for the people of Afghanistan.  

Peace and stability in Afghanistan, to a large extent, is contingent upon genuine cooperation and support of the neighbouring countries and international partners. As a nation-state, we are determined to live in peace within, with our neighbours and in collaboration with the international community. 

As emphasised during his opening remarks in on 12 September that "we extend our hands for cooperation to all our neighbouring nations," Chairman of HCNR, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, at the invitation of the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, is visiting Islamabad on an official three-day visit beginning today.  

It is Dr Abdullah’s first visit to Pakistan in 13 years, where he will call on Pakistan’s Prime Minister and President and will have engage with Pakistan's Chairman of Senate, Speaker of the National Assembly, Foreign Minister as well as its military leadership. This visit could be a turning point in discussing serious cooperation in bringing peace, stability and enhancing bilateral ties.

Pakistan is the first country Dr Abdullah is visiting as part of his regional peace diplomacy to secure the required support from its immediate, as well as extended, neighbours for the Afghan peace process and to take them into confidence.

It is imperative that all stakeholders should acknowledge that reconciliation begins with the recognition of social, economic, and political shifts in Afghanistan and by avoiding a repeat of the politics and policies that have plainly failed in the past. This time the condition for both domestic and external stakeholders is conducive to secure a durable peace for Afghanistan.  

Making war is far easier than making peace, and transforming this rare opportunity into a durable peace is the solemn responsibility of all relevant stakeholders, including the citizens of Afghanistan. 

Making the best of the moment, among other things, requires undertaking a critical, sober, and transparent review of past errors and missed opportunities to avoid repeating previous mistakes.

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