AFGHAN GOVERNMENT AND TALIBAN AGREE RULES FOR PEACE TALKS

Afghanistan

Members of the Afghan government and the Taliban have reached a preliminary agreement to continue the process of peace talks. The deal was the first written agreement between the two sides in the 19-year war. The deal was drafted on Wednesday 2 December and maps out the way peace talks will proceed. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman quoted the leader, “the agreement is a step forward towards beginning the negotiations on the main issues, including a comprehensive ceasefire as the key demand of the Afghan people.”  The two sides have been engaged in dialogue for months but are still technically at war. Deborah Lyons, the United Nations envoy for Afghanistan called the deal a “positive development.” “This breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans,” she said on Twitter. According to an anonymously cited EU diplomat, this most recent agreement places some of the more contentious issues to the side to focus on moving towards a ceasefire. The diplomat elaborated that both sides realise Western powers are pressuring them to come to an agreement, as Western aid has been given on the condition that peace talks remain in progress. International players, including Pakistan’s foreign ministry, have praised the deal as a “significant step forward”. According to the ministry, “the agreement reflects a common resolve of the parties to secure a negotiated settlement. It is an important development contributing toward a successful outcome of intra-Afghan negotiations.”

From a Christian perspective, the breakthrough agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban is an answer to years of prayer from both the global and Afghan Christian communities. In such a long-running conflict, it is important to acknowledge the victories achieved through persevering intercession. While future peace negotiations have the potential to improve the economic, social, and political environment in Afghanistan, the local Church is aware that political peace often leads to greater religious scrutiny. The government’s continued focus on the conflict with the Taliban and the current peace process has allowed the small ‘underground’ Afghan Church to engage in church-related activities, and discipling, with less government interference. However, according to an INcontext contact in the region, if/when peace between the warring sides is reached, the Church will face increased persecution. While this is a daunting reality for Afghan believers, Christianity has historically spread more rapidly during times of high persecution. The global Church needs to continue to stand with their Afghan brothers and sisters in prayer to help them find peace in the victories achieved through prayer and to encourage them not to lose hope amid increased scrutiny.

Pray with us for the following:

  • For this new agreement to take hold and lead to lasting peace, and for that peace to bring increased stability to the Afghan people
  • For the global Church to continue to walk beside its Afghan brothers and sisters, and for continued victories in achieving peace
  • For Afghan believers to be encouraged and be an encouragement to others during this time of political and religious uncertainty

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Image: REUTERS/POOL

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