October 7th marks the 19 years of the collapse of the Taliban’s regime. A lot has happened since then. After nearly two decades of war, the Taliban are now pushing for a return to power, having signed a landmark troop withdrawal deal with the US in February and currently holding peace talks with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Doha of Qatar. However, the ongoing talks have been bogged down in spats for nearly a month over the working principles, in which some sticky points have arisen. US point-man for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and President Ashraf Ghani are both in Doha – a move that many believe is aimed at breaking the deadlock in parleys. A recent report by Reuters alleged that the two sides have drawn up 19 ground rules which are to be observed at the negotiable table for further substantive talks. The media outlet said the sides had finally made the breakthrough and agreed on a code of conduct, mainly with the help of US officials and Ghani’s visit and discussions with US officials in Qatar. Nevertheless, the Afghan government and the Taliban both refuted the news published by Reuters regarding the code of conduct as ‘untrue’. Earlier, republican negotiator Nader Naderi had also said Ghani was in Qatar on a formal visit that was not directly linked to the peace talks in Doha. Meanwhile, the government’s chief negotiator for direct talks with the Taliban, Mohammad Massoum Stanikzai, had assured that the delay in the commencement of formal negotiations should not be seen as cause for concern. But the situation on the ground is worrisome. While the talks have been taking place in Doha, the continued violence kills scores of Afghan soldiers and Taliban fighters. On top of that, unfortunately, clashes and suicide attacks also claim the lives of civilians, something that has seen a spike in recent weeks. Although the negotiating sides call the recent news regarding the completion of the code of conduct as false, they should realize rather than refuting it. Making a speedy process on the table means calm and peacefulness in Afghanistan and a decrease in Afghans’ massacre. The sides should understand the sensitivity of the time and work hastily for a truce. The 19 anniversary of US forces’ invasion of Afghanistan has almost come to end, as the US promises to leave by May next year. Therefore, there is no more excuse for waging war. The notion that clashes and violence on the ground give the warring sides leverage at the negotiation table should be shunned and sincere efforts made for peace in order to put a final stop to the human and financial losses being caused by the war.
Uzbek delegation meets Afghan authorities
AT Kabul: The delegation headed by Uzbekistan’s National Security Council Adviser and Uzbek special envoy …