US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad

It is up to Afghans to choose between war and peace: US envoy

US special envoy of Afghanistan’s reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, in a Congress briefing held on Tuesday, said that the future of Afghanistan peace depends on the political settlement the Afghans make.

The statement came at a time while the US Embassy in Kabul ordered non-essential US embassy workers to leave Kabul.

“The opportunity is once again confronting them and it’s up to them,” Khalilzad said.

The Istanbul conference on Afghanistan was due to be held in Turkey on April 24 has been postponed for the Taliban refused to take part in the meeting. Following the postponement of the Istanbul meeting, the Afghan, Turkish and Pakistani foreign ministers attended a one-day meeting, urging the Taliban to resume talks and remain adhered to their commitment to a peaceful settlement and put an immediate end to violence.

“The choice that the Afghans face is between a negotiated political settlement or a long war,” Khalilzad told US legislators in Congress.

On February 29, the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban aimed at ending America’s war in Afghanistan. Under the US-Taliban deal, the Afghan government set free over 5,000 Taliban prisoners, including some notorious Taliban commanders who were involved in high-profile crimes, in return for exchange of 1,000 plus Afghan security forces held by the Taliban. The deal bounds the Taliban to give counterterrorism guarantees—meaning not allowing any military group to attack the US and its allies from Afghanistan—cut ties with al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and other terrorist organizations, lay down the gun, and seek a political settlement with the Afghan government. In return, the US will pull out all its troops by May 2021.