“There’s no government control in the area we live. No government here; not a single government force,” says 45-year old Elham [name changed] who lives in a Province less than 80 km outside Kabul. “There are Taliban [fighters] outside [my house] patrolling the streets as we speak right now,” he tells during a telephonic interview.

Hugh swathes of Mr. Elham’s Province have been under Taliban control for more than a decade. Mr. Elham, who is employed in public service, lives in constant fear. “Only the district Governor’s compound is under safety with government forces, the rest is all under Taliban control,” he says.

Lately, though, there has been some hope for peace, following the latest olive branch extended by the Afghan government. After many failed attempts at peace talks, the government on February 28 put forward an offer “without preconditions” to negotiate a peace deal with the insurgent group. In exchange for ceasefire, the government is willing to offer Taliban with political recognition and release of prisoners, apart from passports and visas to the group’s members and their families, and office space in Kabul.

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