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Talks to end war at doldrums

Kabul expects intra-Afghan talks to begin next week, but Taliban disagree, opposing talks until all their prisoners freed

By Mujeeb R. Awrang

KABUL: A peace talk to end the war in Afghanistan has seen moving nowhere; rather has been turning into intricacy by passing each day. Both sides (Afghan government and the Taliban) are somehow setting fury on some issues that could be tiny, but have prevented yet the direct talks between the Afghan peace team and the Taliban negotiating one.

The Kabul government expected the intra-Afghan talks to begin next week, but the Taliban rejected, bringing prisoner issues as a condition. The Taliban says they will not hold talks until all their prisoners are freed.  

Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah has expressed expectations for the direct talks between the government and the Taliban to kick start next week.

“The list of the members of the Political Committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation has been finalized and will be announced,” Abdullah told an event organized by the Institute of War and Peace Studies.

Meanwhile, acting minister of foreign affairs, Haneef Atmar said that the release of Taliban 400 dangerous prisoners would be completed in the upcoming week and that the intra-Afghan negotiations would be started in the near future. He brought up the remarks in a video-talk with the US Institute of Peace and said that with the release of 400 Taliban prisoners, the total numbers of the freed militants would reach to over 5,500. Atmar called on the Taliban to remain committed and don’t allow its fighters to rejoin the insurgency.

But Taliban Qatar Based Spokesman, Suhail Shaheen told the media that they would set for talks with Kabul once all of their prisoners were released by the government. He accused the government of making obstacles on the path of the intra-Afghan negotiations.

Also, more than 86 percent of 8,000 people, who were surveyed by the Institute of Peace and War Studies, are satisfied with the ongoing peace process. According to the survey, over 70 percent of the interviewers preferred the Republic System to be maintained in Afghanistan.

The European Ambassador to Afghanistan, Pierre Mayaudon, who was also in the panel, reiterated Europe Union’s support to the intra-Afghan negotiations. “We have no clear definition, but a genuine and immediate and long-lasting ceasefire. I think this will respond to the expectations of all Afghans,” he added.

Another panelist, former spy chief, Rahmatullah Nabil criticized the US agenda for Afghan peace process. “We call it a kind of proxy peace; and proxy peace is like disabled peace; it can change just a proxy war’s methods, but it will not end the war,” he said, while talking to the panel.

“We want to promote a dialogue that will bring peace and the peace-building process out of the Afghan cities and out of the elite community into the rural areas,” said Tamim Asey, head of the Institute of War and Peace Studies.

The first round of the intra-Afghan negotiations is set to be held in Doha where the Taliban maintains a political office. The direct negotiations between the government and Taliban have been delayed and faced hurdles for several times due to disagreement between the two sides.

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