Talking peace while waging war in Afghanistan

KABULAs the Afghan government and rebel Taliban engage in peace talks in Doha, Qatar, hopes for a breakthrough are still constrained by myriad sticking points as civil war violence continues apace.  

While Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s government negotiation team has insisted on a battlefield ceasefire before entering substantive talks, the Taliban has stood firm on discussing and agreeing on the causes of the war before quieting their guns.

The negotiations aim to end 19 years of fighting and establish a plan for post-war society, including a potential power-sharing arrangement. Talks to date have focused on setting agendas and how negotiations will be held.

The Taliban are demanding that the conflict be formally acknowledged as a “jihad”, that negotiations are conducted under the so-called Hanafi school of thought, and that the US-Taliban agreement signed in February serves as a basis for the two sides’ dialogue.

The US deal paves the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021. Differences over a prisoner exchange agreed to in the US-Taliban deal delayed the start of the talks.


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