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Editorial: Peace talks and challenges

Earlier this month the government has said that it expected to hold face-to-face talks with the Taliban representatives by the end of February. The statement was issued by the spokesman of foreign ministry following the third round of the four-nation talks called (Quadrilateral Coordination Group) meetings in Pakistan’s capital city, Islamabad. The group consisting of diplomats from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, trying to find a so-called ‘roadmap’ since January to encourage Taliban militants to join Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process.

The government is continuing peace efforts amid several challenges. Taliban who has intensified fighting has said they would not come to talks unless its preconditions are met. The conditions include delisting the group from UN blacklist and the release of its leaders from Guantanamo prison.

Meanwhile, there seems to be some insider challenges in Kabul as well. A number of government authorities including senior officials say that the insurgent group is not interested in the peace process and sees their benefits in continuing the war. Ahmad Zia Massoud who holds the title of the president’s special representative for reform and good governance believes that the talks would be just a ‘waste of time’. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Massoud said that the government’s confidence does not “reflect political and military realities”.

This is not only Massoud who opposes the talks. Earlier, the spy chief resigned in protests to the negotiations. Interior minister offered his resignation to the president. Although the reason did not come out, but some analysts say that the decision was also related to the talks. However, the minister’s resignation was not approved by the president.

How the government will launch direct negotiations with the Taliban while considering the above matters? Who is supposed to lead the talks on behalf of the government? The High Peace Council, the only body to lead the talks still lacks of the head. Also the roadmap has not been yet made and a fourth round of the quadrilateral talks is scheduled to be held in a few days in Kabul.

The government is asked to lift the insider challenges and convince officials who oppose the talks by explaining them the details of the talks. Through this, people will also be informed about what their leaders have in head and how they deal for the peace.

Finally, the government has just a handful of days ahead for its expectation about the direct talks. People are asking ‘is it possible to hold face-to-face talks in eight days’?

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