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Afghans getting close to peace deal

Ceasefire plea insist as Afghan and Taliban announce breakthrough on procedure for peace talks, demonstrating that the negotiating parties could agree on other issues as well to eventually reach an agreement to end deadly war

Mujeeb R. Awrang

KABUL: Finally after nearly three months of discussion, Afghanistan and Taliban peace representatives said on Wednesday evening that they had reached an agreement on rules and procedures. The Afghan leaders, and Washington welcomed the announcement as a significant step to move forward.

The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion on the agendas. The agreement was considered a breakthrough because it will allow both sides to enter into official talks under the structure of intra-Afghan talks, which have been delayed for months as both sides were releasing conflicting reports on the progress.

 “Today (Wednesday), the plenary meeting was held between the intra-Afghan negotiation teams. In this meeting, a joint working committee was tasked to prepare the draft topics for the agenda,” said a senior member of the government negotiation team, Nader Naderi.

Mohammad Naeem, Spokesman for the Taliban political office in Qatar, confirmed that the procedure including “its preamble of the intra-Afghan negotiations” has been finalized. “From now on, the negotiations will begin on the agenda,” Naeem said in a tweet.

The new milestone progression in talks in Doha was welcomed by the Afghan government and other influential figures in the country.

Former President Hamid Karzai welcomed the progress. “I hope that both sides will agree on a comprehensive ceasefire to end the war and ensure lasting peace in the country.”

Peace is the national and vital aspiration of the Afghan people, Karzai said, calling on negotiating sides to accelerate their efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability in the country. 

President Ashraf Ghani’s Spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi said that the progress would lay out the negotiations on crucial issues of a comprehensive ceasefire and a lasting peace in the country.

“The President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan welcomes the finalization of the negotiation procedures in Doha. It’s a step forward towards beginning the negotiations on the main issues, including a comprehensive ceasefire as the key demand of the Afghan people for a lasting peace,” Sediqqi said in a tweet.

The progress in the peace talks come at a time while the Afghans have lost trust on the fragile peace process as violence reached its peak and intensive fighting between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban militants have remained high.

But the government negotiating team’s member, Naderi expects a successful peace deal with the militants.

“The current negotiations show that there is willingness among Afghans to reach a sustainable peace,” he said, adding that both sides are committed to continue their sincere efforts to reach a sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

Welcoming the finalization of the procedure, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad said that the agreement demonstrates that the negotiating parties could agree on tough issues as well.

“A three-page agreement codifying rules and procedures for their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire,” Khalilzad said in a tweet.

The US envoy appreciated the Qatari government’s efforts for hosting the negotiating team of both sides.

He said that the US supported the desire of the people of Afghanistan to expect rapid progress on a political roadmap and ceasefire. 

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