The attempt to draw Taliban members into the political process in Afghanistan is a crucial step but needs to be transparent and Afghan-led, says Christian Aid.
The process needs to be inclusive of all ethnic and social groups and must uphold the rights and dignity of all Afghans to build a long and lasting peace.
It is vital that women’s rights and other advances achieved in Afghanistan are not diluted for the sake of peace and reconciliation with members of the Taliban.
"The only path to peace is to create jobs and ensure that the political system is open and accountable to the Afghan people who have suffered for decades,” says Serena Di Matteo, Christian Aid’s Country Director for Afghanistan.
The new strategy agreed at the London Conference does not outline how it will tackle acute poverty and it will only work if decision making is put in the hands of the Afghan people, says Di Matteo.
Christian Aid welcomes the plan to hold a conference in Kabul later this year to clearly define and evaluate objectives and benchmarks to avoid a long history of fine words not backed up by actions.
“I hope that civil society organizations with whom we have been working in Afghanistan for thirty years will be invited to participate in a more active way in the decision-making process of the forthcoming events in Kabul," Serena Di Matteo says.
Civil society organisations can play a fundamental role in identifying needs and priorities and holding the Government to account on these.
“Real progress in Afghanistan will only come with a long-term commitment to sustainable development from the donor countries,” says Di Matteo.
The Afghan Government needs to work with international forces to provide security and work with added vigour to end poverty.
“There is huge need for significant investment in rural areas to ensure farming is a productive alternative for many Afghan families”, Di Matteo says.
Christian Aid has given about £20 million to partners working in north, west and central Afghanistan since 2001.