(The Washington post): For almost a year, Afghanistan’s more than 30 million people have been in the awkward position of waiting as a United States envoy and the Taliban negotiate their country’s fate behind closed doors. An agreement on ending America’s longest war, which the U.S. once hoped to reach by Sunday, could set a timeline for U.S. troops’ withdrawal but also nudge aside this month’s presidential election and open the way for a Taliban return to power. The militants continue their attacks, again invading a major city, Kunduz, on Saturday and the city of Puli Khumri on Sunday.Without a say in their own future, Afghans’ frustration is clear. “We don’t know what is going on but we are just so tired,” said Sonia, a teacher in the capital, Kabul, who like many people goes by one name. Reflecting the helplessness, a new television ad shows residents of all 34 provinces holding up pieces of paper that simply say “Peace.” An art group in Kabul has begun painting concrete blast walls with tens of thousands of tulips, the national flower, as symbols of the civilians killed in nearly 18 years of fighting And a peace movement praised by Afghans for a daring march across the country warns that the Taliban, who control or hold sway over roughly half of Afghanistan nearly two decades after a U.S.-led invasion toppled them from power, are just as harsh as the days when women were forced out of sight and entertainment was banned under a strict form of Islamic law. A 23-year-old member of the peace movement, Sayed Rahim Omid, shyly lowered his trousers and showed The Associated Press a still-painful wound on his leg where he said Taliban members at hometown in southern Helmand province had whipped him with cables. Stop your activism, they told him last month. Who’s paying you? His family secured his release by swearing he would never speak out again. Then he promptly fled to Kabul. Several peace marchers have been beaten up, he and fellow members said.Better times are on the way for the Afghan people, Agha said, as some 20,000 U.S. and other foreign troops prepare to withdraw in return for Taliban assurances that Afghanistan won’t be a haven for terror groups plotting overseas attacks.