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“Taliban agree on partial US presence in Afghanistan”

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Taliban group have reportedly consented to the staying behind of residual US forces in Afghanistan, a former notable Pakistani military official claimed Sunday.

The Pakistan’s former defense secretary, Lt. Gen. (retd) Asif Yasin Malik, said the power sharing formula between the Afghan stakeholders was yet to be decided and it was expected to be finalized by January next year.

He told the Pakistani News International daily in a telephonic interview that the Taliban had accepted the US demand of partial withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Though there is some deadlock on the power sharing formula between the Afghan stakeholders. But according to my understanding the whole peace process will be finalized by the end of this year or in early 2020. The peace deal is likely to be signed in January or February next year which will be a great boost for US President Trump who will kick-start his Presidential election campaign later in the year 2020”, informed the retired general.

Moreover, renowned journalist Saleem Safi also agreed with the retired general and believed that the Taliban had agreed on American presence in Afghanistan but they had linked it with one condition.

According to him, Taliban too understood that 100 percent withdrawal of American forces was impossible; therefore they knew the US Administration’s position and accepted this condition.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani-based senior journalist and expert on Afghan Affairs, Tahir Khan, who attended the recent Afghan Peace Conference held in July in Doha said he had spoken with Taliban spokesperson, Sohail Shaheen, who was hopeful that soon they will reach an agreement.

However, Tahir Khan says nothing is finalized yet as the agreement has not even been written yet and these are all speculations. Though a lot of progress has been made but the accord will be signed when all the stakeholders reached an agreement.

From October 2018 up till now, a total of seven rounds or peace conferences between the Taliban and the U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, have been held along with an intra-Afghan conference in Doha early this month which concluded in a joint resolution outlining a roadmap for potential peace in Afghanistan. He has also informed of the eighth round of peace negotiations which is said to be held soon.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is focusing on two major issues during the Afghan Peace process —ceasefire and Intra-Afghan dialogue. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s arrived at the United States on Sunday and his visit is said to revolve around these two points as well.

This comes as the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month said that Washington is hopeful a peace agreement to bring an end to the 18-year war in Afghanistan can be reached before September 1 and prior to the Afghan presidential vote – which is scheduled for September 28.

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