By Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai
This is a historic opportunity for Afghanistan and our coalition partners participating in the NATO Summit. With the help of our partners around the world and the determination of the Afghan people, soon Afghanistan will take its place in the international community standing on its own as a sovereign country.
The Afghan people are thankful for the efforts and support offered by the international community, which has been standing by us. We look forward to a long-term partnership to generate a durable peace.
The people of Afghanistan have known nothing but war for the past 33 years. It is time to put the Afghan-led peace process at the top of our priorities so Afghans can experience peace and prosperity. Afghans, in particular the Taliban, must get the message that peace and reintegration is not surrender, it is an opportunity for all Afghans to return to their families, villages and country with honor and dignity and become part of the wider political system under the Afghan constitution.
There are those who will never recognize peace in Afghanistan. They should not allow others to use them as an instrument to destroy their own country. After signing our Partnership Agreement with the United States and other members of the international community, Afghans are taking full responsibility for provision of security for our own people. If insurgents insist on continuing the fight, they will find they are up against a fully capable Afghan National Security Force which will enjoy further support of our communities. I expect this NATO summit will cement the long-term commitment to build the capacity and capabilities of the ANSF, which will be insurance to the people of Afghanistan that the history of the 1990s will not be repeated.
Women in Afghanistan have taken huge steps in the last few years and have become integrated in the Afghan government at local, regional and national levels. The women’s contribution to our nation will only become prevalent as more women graduate from our universities and take their places in Afghan society. This will be only possible if we achieve durable peace in our country.
I highly encourage our strategic partners to join in our Afghan pride. Our neighbors in the region respect us once again as a sovereign nation and we continue to establish trade partnerships. Heads of state continue to come to Afghanistan to re-establish relations.
As we transition to peace, we are grateful that our strategic stakeholders respect and support our determination to achieve Afghan independence. I look forward to the day Afghanistan is no longer remembered as a war-torn country, but as a country of peace.
Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai is chief executive officer of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program.