Details are still awaited as the fifth round of marathon peace talks between the US negotiators and the Taliban continue for the second consecutive days in Doha, Qatar.
The talks were called off for two days aimed at “extensive discussions” between technical groups and they were resumed on Saturday.
Sources close to the Taliban said details of the negotiations will not be announced unless the two sides reach a conclusion on some disputed topics, including a timeline for withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the assurance by the Taliban that Afghanistan’s territory is not used as a threat against interests of any other country.
“First, we need to reach to peace and then the Afghan government, the Afghan people and the Taliban should make a decision about the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan,” said Bilal Ahmad Niazi, a political affairs analyst.
It is believed that Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) is also unaware of the details of the talks between the US and the Taliban in Qatar.
“Decision will not be made there [in Qatar] about Afghanistan. We hope that the US coordinates every step it is taking in Qatar with the High Peace Council and the Afghan government,” said Sayed Ehsan Tahiri, spokesman for High Peace Council.
“The Taliban is pressing the US to withdraw within six months from Afghanistan, but the United States side insists that they cannot do so in six months and they need more time,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former member of the Taliban.
According to sources, Taliban expects that this time the two sides will reach an agreement on issues making agenda of the talks, but political analysts articulate that it is early to predict any breakthrough out of these talks.
“The details will leak if they reach an agreement about these two important topics. But if they don’t reach an agreement, details will not hold any weight in that case,” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, head of Hizb-e-Harakat-e-Inqilab-e-Islami Afghanistan.
The four main topics of US-Taliban talks in Qatar have been US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, ensuring that Afghanistan’s territory is not used as a threat to any other country, a comprehensive ceasefire and direct talks with the Afghan government. This was confirmed by the Afghan government as well as by sources ahead of the talks.
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who is leading the talks with the Taliban members for the fifth time in Qatar since his appointment last September, said on Feb. 28 that he had some constructive discussions with the group in Doha.
A number of women activists at a rally in Kabul on Sunday criticized backdoor talks between US and Taliban in Qatar. The activists said no one has the right to make a decision on the fate of women, who make half of the Afghan society.
Mahbuba Saraj, a women’s rights activist, said women should have an “equal role” in the peace process as men.
This comes after the Afghan government, which has been out of these talks due to the persistent refusal by the Taliban, on Saturday called on Afghan politicians and people from different layers of the society to introduce their delegates for a national and inclusive negotiating team which will conduct peace talks on behalf of Afghans.
The formation of an inclusive national team for peace talks is a demand by the US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad.
An 11-member team formed by government last year but it was criticized for not being inclusive.