Kabul - "In recent times there have been some positive signs: in mid-February the Taliban declared that they are ready to start negotiations with the United States; at the end of the same month, Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, made a proposal for a peace agreement with the Taliban. Evidently, both sides know they cannot prevail; so they are realizing that the time has come to reach an agreement".
This is what Father Giovanni Scalese, Barnabite missionary, titular of the Missio sui iuris of Afghanistan, says to Agenzia Fides, words which are full of hope.
Last March 12, recalls Fr. Scalese, the Afghan land has finished its 6,000th day of war, considering that the conflict began in October 2001: "If we look, however, to previous years, we realize that Afghanistan has been at war since 1978. Since then it has had no peace. A forty-year war".
The situation in the Central Asian country remains troubled. A report published in recent days by the European Union, FAO and the World Food Program, places Afghanistan among the 51 countries seriously affected by food insecurity in 2017 and indicates the war among the main factors of crisis. Furthermore, on 21 March, a new kamikaze attack in a Shiite shrine in the west of Kabul caused 26 dead and 18 wounded.
"This last period was certainly not the best; just think of the 'black week' experienced at the end of January: the first assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, then the attack on the 'Save the Children' office in Jalalabad and, finally, the ambulance bombing in the capital. It seems that the situation is reaching its peak. But the recent small steps towards a search for dialogue are positive", notes the Barnabite.
Fr. Scalese explains: "Only with peace it is possible to take advantage of some great opportunities, such as the exploitation of natural resources, which could be more profitable than the opium criminal business: perhaps economic interest could succeed where weapons, politics and diplomacy have failed".
Meanwhile, on 26 and 27 March 2018, a high-level international conference dedicated to Afghanistan will be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on the theme "Peace process, cooperation in the field of regional security and interaction", on the initiative of the Uzbek president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Ashraf Ghani.
"With the first day of spring, the year 1397 began in Afghanistan. This is the season when nature awakens after winter sleep: it may be a good omen for the rebirth of this land! With the hope that our Muslim brothers can also benefit from the life that arises in the Risen Jesus", concludes the Barnabite.
In Afghanistan, where Islam is recognized as a State religion, the Catholic presence was admitted in the early twentieth century as mere spiritual assistance within the Italian Embassy in Kabul, elevated to Missio sui iuris in 2002 by John Paul II. Today the mission continues to be based in the diplomatic structure and is entrusted to Barnabite father Giovanni Scalese. In the Afghan capital there are also the sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Pro Bambini inter-congregational association of Kabul. >>