Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday embraced the Afghan government and Taliban announcement of ceasefire during Eid festivities.

He said violence has turned horrifying in the recent weeks, and the Afghan public has paid huge price.

Khalilzad reassured that the United States stands with the people of Afghanistan, the Afghans demand political settlement and a “permanent ceasefire.

US Special Envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation reiterated that Afghan peace negotiations should be accelerated, so Afghans could reach a political settlement and put an end to this “senseless” war.

He added that a lasting peace, ceasefire and stability is what Afghan people yearn for.

In an interview with Der Spiegel which was published on Monday, Khalilzad said the Afghan people are craving for peace and that there is no better alternative than a state of tranquility.

“The Taliban spoke to the US and the European group in Berlin this week by video. They said they don’t see a military solution and say that the only option is a political one. Both sides have to be realistic about finding common ground. If there is no peace agreement, the alternative is not a Taliban victory. It is a long war,” Khalilzad said during his interview.

“The violence is bad, and our goal is to help end it through a peace agreement. In a best-case scenario, there will be national reconciliation and everyone’s energies will focus on rebuilding lives and obtaining the peace dividend. But yes, things could get worse if there is no realistic agreement and the war continues – or, God forbid, that it escalates, and past mistakes are repeated. We, for our part, will do all that we can, short of getting involved again in a war, to prevent things from devolving. All Afghans have been affected by this war. Afghans living in Taliban areas have not been spared. They have been deprived of a lot. They deserve a better chance, as well as those who have benefited from the gains of the last 20 years. We’re preparing for all potential alternatives and we are very much committed to humanitarian support as well”, Khalilzad said.

This comes as President Ashraf Ghani met with Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff and Chief of the Defense Staff and Commander of British Armed Forces Gen. Sir Nick Carter on Monday.

The officials discussed the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship, the peace process, the role of Pakistan in the peace process, and the end of the conflict in Afghanistan.

In the meeting, President Ashraf Ghani stressed the role of regional countries, especially Pakistan’s is critical in the peace process because of their influence on the Taliban.

According to Presidential Palace, President Ghani explained that Afghanistan and Pakistan have no choice but must adopt mutual respect, better bilateral relations, and economic cooperation.

 Afghans who demand just and enduring peace do not opt for the Taliban’s military solution, the war in Afghanistan has no military solution, the president said.

The Afghan president said stability in both nations is connected with the other and that Pakistan’s sincere role is required in ensuring a just, prolonged, and maintained peace in Afghanistan.

Bajwa during his visit also met with Abdullah Abdullah head of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR).

Bajwa said there is no military solution in Afghanistan and that the only way out of war is through political settlement via intra-Afghan negotiations and agreement on an inclusive government.  

Abdullah noted that the Taliban wants a military solution that will further fuel the violence, he added that Afghans, regional countries, and the world favor the Taliban’s part in a peaceful inclusive system.

Both officials stressed the need for meaningful negotiations between Afghan government and the Taliban.

Bajwa’s trip to Afghanistan comes as President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban announced ceasefire during Eid days.

President Ghani called on Afghan forces to observe the ceasefire and reiterated that the Taliban’s violence has no legitimacy while the international forces are leaving the country.

Taliban must have learned that they cannot win militarily and through close-quarter battles against the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, President Ghani explained.

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