KABUL: Some Taliban negotiators have said peace negotiations with the Afghan government will be “easier” than their marathon talks with the United States – which took roughly 1.5 years and culminated into a peace agreement on February end.
March 10 will be the day the Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to begin intra-Afghan negotiations, as set by the U.S.-Taliban peace deal, which dictates a release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners from the government’s custody by the same date.
Taliban negotiator, Amir Khan Motaqi, who appeared with other members of the group in a video report in a pro-Taliban website said he is almost sure that an agreement will be achieved by the intra-Afghan talks.
“We will reach a conclusion with Afghans in a better way – of course with Afghans who consider other Afghans’ interests and do not consider foreigners’ interests,” Motaqi said.
Another senior member of the group, Anas Haqqani, who was released from Bagram prison last November, called the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners important but criticized “uncertainty” around the formation of the negotiating team from Kabul.
The government has not, however, announced its peace force. But President Ghani last week suggested that the delegation should be limited in number and that it should be effective. On Saturday during the inauguration of the new year of the Afghan parliament, Ghani reiterated that the team will be ready by March 10.
In Kabul, there are concerns among Afghans–both elites and everyday citizens–about the fate of rights and achievement made over the last 19 years if the Taliban returns to Afghanistan as part of a peace deal.