New developments Reported over crucial Intra Afghan Peace talks
The stage is finally set in the Qatari capital Doha for the warring Afghan parties to settle their differences through talks.
The US, Qatari, and Afghan governments as well as the Taliban leaders on Thursday simultaneously announced their readiness to kick start the crucial intra-Afghan dialogue process on Saturday. Incidentally the talks will begin a day after the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US. These attacks led the US and its allies to invade Afghanistan to depose the Taliban government.
A chartered plane left Kabul for Doha carrying the last batch of six high profile Taliban militant prisoners. Another plane also headed to Doha carrying Afghan delegates representing Kabul.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to join Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the negotiating team from Kabul, and Sheikh Mawlawi Abdul Hakim, the Taliban’s top negotiator, to participate in the inaugural session of negotiations.
Official sources confirmed to Anadolu Agency that owing to stern opposition towards the release of six prisoners, an arrangement has been found to keep them under house arrest in Doha. According to an agreement between the US and Taliban, the Afghanistan government was bound to release 5000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1000 security forces.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Fawzia Koofi, a prominent female member of the Afghan delegation said their primary target would be to secure a ceasefire.
"If there is nothing substantial on the ground for the common Afghans to see than there would be no confidence in the whole process", she said.
She had survived an attempt on her life by unknown gunmen two months ago that injured her right hand. The Taliban denied their involvement in the attack.
Emirate v/s Republic
While the Taliban have been demanding converting Afghanistan into an Islamic Emirate -- a totalitarian Islamic state, people familiar with the dialogue process said the Afghan government representatives will try to secure the current system of governance.
“Both sides are standing firm on their stance at the two extreme ends with one [Taliban] seeking to topple the government in Kabul or at least see an interim government takeover, while the other [Afghan government] is unwavering in its resolve to keep the system intact and push the militants to observe ceasefire”, said Habib Rehman a political analyst.
Mohammad Naeem, newly appointed spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatar office said his group intends to carry out the negotiation process and establish durable peace and a pure Islamic system, within the framework of Islamic values and the highest interests of the country.
Rehman argued the rejuvenated Afghan peace process is mainly driven by the US to begin its exit to score points in the presidential polls.
“The Afghan sides are likely to be compelled towards a compromise by the same force, the Americans, who have pushed the process this far”, he told Anadolu Agency.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US peace mediator on Wednesday apprehended that spoilers will become desperate in their attempt to disrupt the process as the talks proceed.
The US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation said in a series of tweets that the attack on Vice President Amrullah Saleh's convoy is the latest example of it.
“History has shown that when the opportunity for peace is close, spoilers will go to no end to try and stop it. Afghans are not falling for their trap”, he tweeted.
Khalilzad said Afghans know a successful peace process is the only antidote to the country's protracted conflict.
“Their widespread yearning for peace will be for the two negotiating teams and their leaders' to satisfy”, he said, while taking to Twitter. - Anadolu Agency