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Afghan peace talks wont’ be easy, says ex-UNAMA Chief

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Former UNAMA Chief Tadamichi Yamamoto said that Afghan peace talks which are underway in Qatar between the Kabul peace force and the Taliban negotiating members won’t be so easy, especially as there is a wide gap between the two parties when it comes to some key fundamental issues.

But, both sides have to continue their dialogue in a bid to reach an agreement even thought it might take some times, he said.

Speaking to Japan’s daily, Mainichi, Yamamoto, who was head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan until March this year, said it is important to remember that this is only the first step and that due to more than 40 years of conflict, since the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, “the situation there has become complex over these years.”

According to him, the talks are a historic step toward peace – especially as the Taliban had previously refused to negotiate with the government. This is happening due to greatly efforts by the international community including the UN, he says, putting the United States, Pakistan, and Qatar at top of those efforts.

Yamamoto believes there would be challenges in terms of finding common ground during the talks especially on fundamental issues such as the distribution of power and system of governance, and human rights issues such as women’s rights.

“Although the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, they still proclaim themselves the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and have maintained that they have the legitimacy to rule the country. 

“They will likely insist on the Emirate as the form of government whereas the Afghan government would insist on the Republic as the form of government,” he said.

“When I spoke to the Taliban’s political delegation in Doha, during my term as UNAMA chief, the group said it had changed and had learned lessons from the past.” 

“They are more conscious of how they are perceived by the international community. However, the Taliban are a large group, and as with any organization, members have different opinions,” he added.

“They appointed their chief justice and religious scholar Abdul Hakim Haqqani, a person close to the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, as the head of its delegation in the talks. He is said to have conservative views. He was most likely appointed because the Taliban wanted to reassure their conservative members about the outcome of the negotiation,” he said adding that he did hope this appointment is indicative of the Taliban’s seriousness about the peace talks.

“Can the Taliban’s leadership with conservative thinking move forward with peacemaking? The talks would be a test as to whether the Taliban have really changed from its past,” Yamamoto stated. 

It has been over one week from the start of the intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha, but the negotiating members yet to carry their first meeting. They are lingering on the agenda and principle of the peace talks, which seemed complex and contradictory.

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