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Jakarta Post

Toward long-lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 5, 2020   /   08:25 am
Toward long-lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal and their victory in the Afghan conflict on US in Afghanistan, in Alingar district of Laghman Province. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada)

At the end of last month, I was invited to witness the signing of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban in Doha. At the same time, the joint declaration between Afghanistan and the US was released and further marked a pivotal moment in the peace process.

The day after, I flew to Kabul to meet with the leaders of Afghanistan and to launch the Indonesia-Afghanistan Women’s Solidarity Network.

These are highly encouraging developments that we have waited for a long time to happen in the region.

The peace accord between the US and the Taliban, widely known as the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, and the joint declaration between Afghanistan and the US are the first steps in the peace process in
Afghanistan.

These deals are surely not an end. Rather they are the beginning of a new chapter for the peace process, which will be followed by intra-Afghan negotiations. The negotiation process between the parties in Afghanistan is very crucial for the future of the nation. It is fundamental that the future of the land be determined by Afghan people through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process.

As the country has endured more than 40 years of conflict, we need to first restore trust among all parties in Afghanistan to ensure success in the intra-Afghan negotiations. This is where Indonesia’s role comes to the fore. Addressing the trust deficit and progressing the peace process in Afghanistan has been Indonesia’s long-standing goal.

Indonesia, which is a cofacilitator or like-minded country with Qatar, Uzbekistan, Norway and Germany, has been actively facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan. The five countries or “the quint” are committed to continuing support for sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

At present, Indonesia is holding the role as facilitator (copenholder) of the issue of Afghanistan in the United Nations Security Council along with Germany.

Indonesia’s contribution to the peace process in Afghanistan became increasingly visible following President Ashraf Ghani’s request to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during the former’s visit to Indonesia in 2017.

Back then, President Ghani told President Jokowi that Afghanistan wanted to learn from Indonesia on how to consolidate democracy, the rule of law and constitutional governance. He said Afghanistan aimed to join Indonesia’s global efforts to promote Islam as rahmatan lil alamin (a blessing for the universe).

Since then, Indonesia has played a role as an impartial and balanced party to all parties involved. Indonesia’s genuine involvement in the process is also part and parcel of its constitutional mandate.

We cannot deny our historical connection with Afghanistan, among the first countries that acknowledged Indonesia’s independence in 1945 and a supporter of the Asia-Africa Conference in 1955 in Bandung. The bilateral relationship between the two countries has now lasted 65 years.

This is why the road to peace and stability in Afghanistan is not only in the interests of Afghanistan, but also Indonesia, the region and the world at large.

To build Afghanistan peace, Indonesia has focused on the role of clerics and the empowerment of women.

First, as the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia believes in the significant role of clerics in promoting the values of peace and in building peace. Indonesia has taken various initiatives on this, for example by inviting the High Peace Council of Afghanistan and the holding of the Trilateral Ulema Conference in May 2018, which helped the peace process make progress.

As a follow-up measure, Indonesia has proposed to host the Indonesia-Afghanistan Ulema Conference later this year as part of Indonesia’s continuous commitment to promoting the role of clerics in the intra-Afghanistan negotiations and implementation of the peace deals.

Second, it is of high importance to ensure that the ongoing peace process will consider the role of women. We need to create a space for a meaningful participation of women in determining the future of Afghanistan. There can be no peace or stability in Afghanistan without the involvement of women.

Last year, we hosted the Dialogue on the Role of Women in Building and Sustaining Peace in November in Jakarta to promote a more significant role of Afghanistan women in peacebuilding. On March 1, I went to Kabul along with Indonesian women leaders to discuss the empowerment of women in promoting peace in Afghanistan.

As I have witnessed and talked to women leaders of Afghanistan from all walks of life, I could not hide my admiration for the spirit, willingness and potential capability of these women in contributing to the peace process.

Creating a platform is of crucial importance as a vehicle to unite the women of Afghanistan, not only to contribute to the peace consolidation there, but also to build the country’s future.

Moving forward, in creating favorable conditions for democracy and peace to grow in Afghanistan, Indonesia will continue to take part and become one of the facilitators in the process, and full support from the international community is key.

Indonesia, along with several like-minded countries, will continue to push for the progress of the process so that the people of Afghanistan can enjoy long-lasting peace.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.