Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 25th, 2021

A Tumultuous Second Round of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks


A Tumultuous Second Round of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks

As scheduled, the second round of Doha talks on Afghan peace resumed on January 05, 2021. Afghanistan negotiators who had returned to Kabul for a recess went back to Doha, some still with the hope that the second round of talks might come to tangible fruition, and some still with tantalizing pessimism, maintaining that the Taliban side up to now are not allusively moving an inch from their maximalist position insisting on full fulfillment of their demands .
With the second round of talks underway, new demands of the Taliban, which seem arduously exacting to Afghan people and government, are coming to light as conditions for negotiations to move forward. In response, Afghanistan negotiators counterargue the Taliban demands, first to justify their unceasing killing and brutality against the Afghan people pursuant to the Islamic tenets and other national and international laws and conventions. Should they can do so, these demands of them will be fulfilled for the sake of peace by the Afghan people as well .
Notwithstanding, it is very pertinent to argue the Taliban demands in the light of the Afghanistan Constitution, which despite many criticisms pinned to it, is the fourth most Islamic constitutions in the rank of Islamic countries worldwide and a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). There is mention of Islamic principles in the Afghanistan constitution six times more than Kuwait, four times more than Qatar , and many folds than Saudi Arabia. In contrast, 29 other Islamic countries, including Turkey and Indonesia, have no mention of Islam in their constitutions. Furthermore, Afghanistan is one of the four countries with the suffix Islamic at the end of its government insignia. Among all countries only three have manifest Islamic symbols, which Saudi Arabia and Iran have only one each, while Afghanistan bears five Islamic symbols in its insignia, comprised of an emblem and a pulpit in white color at the two corners of which are two flags, inscribed in the top middle the holy phrase «There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet, and Allah is Great With this, the people ask what sort of more Islamic government the Taliban wants to establish? Afghan people do not understand what type of perception the Taliban delegation negotiating in Doha holds from Islam. If bloodshed and killing of innocent men, women, and children are more Islamic in their version of Islam, only then they are more Islamic !
The Afghans are perplexed by the ambiguity surrounding the peace talks . «People are wondering that thousands of Taliban inmates have been released and most of their conditions were fulfilled by the U.S, but negotiations have not born the expected results yet the government-run newspaper Kabul Times maintained .
However , «Taliban persists on change of government system to Islamic Emirate a system (name of their ousted regime) against the government demand of republicanism. The demand is not accepted by Afghans and the international community Ahmad Sayeed of the Kabul Times stressed .
If the government does not release the remaining 7000 prisoners plus the other two conditions, even the negotiations are seemingly expected yet to make no headway .
So far, the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in the face of ceaseless terror attacks by the Taliban. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), more than 2,100 plus civilians were killed and over 3,800 wounded in the first nine months of 2020, and things have only gotten worse ever since, with Washington accusing the Taliban of carrying out a recent wave of high-profile assassinations .
According to Hafiz Mansour, a member of the Afghan negotiating team , «the Taliban cannot scale back their terror attacks without losing leverage in the negotiations, and their attempts to grab power militarily are driven by their «hardline mindset ».
On the other hand, Afghanistan s neighbors are only holding the role of spectators and thus far have remained heedless of who will rule Afghanistan next and what type of the government will come into being, inattentive of the fact that such a situation will not only have dire consequences for Afghanistan but the whole region at large. All the more, experts are evolving deep concerns around the potential for extreme mayhem in the face of a U.S. hasty withdrawal that will push the country to the brink a post-Soviet-Union like chaos .
There is no denying the fact that the situation will go from bad to worse without striking a deal with the Taliban. However, as long as they persist in ruling the roost in peace talks, refuse to deny Al-Qaeda safe-havens, and de-link themselves from the regional and international terrorist organizations, the threats will multiply would further threaten the regional security. Afghanistan s closest neighbor Pakistan for its part, desires to see a malleable regime in Kabul to attain its chronic pursuit of «strategic depth » and hold its archrival India s influence in the country bay. The recent visit of the Taliban negotiating team after the first round of talks to Pakistan indicates that Pakistan has an institutionalized role in shaping the Taliban s position in the peace talks and future of the country. Another prominent issue among others abound is women s rights, how the Taliban embrace the role of sophisticated, empowered women in the future government, given the peace talks fruition is a burning question at hand
In a broader sense, the U.S. President Joe Biden has neither during his campaign trails nor recently has held a clear stance as to the US-Afghan policy, and probably not make any soon as far as clearing the mess his predecessor has left him at home is concerned. However, during his vice-presidency in the Obama administration, Joe Biden supported a negotiated settlement with the Taliban to put an end to the protracted war and lesser military presence, but he will favor retaining a counterterrorism-focused mission. Taliban horrid and intentional denegation from honoring the Doha agreement s conditions, especially their pledge to shy away from killing and violence, would remain President s Biden s Achilles heel unless taken seriously. However, there sounds a miniature possibility that the Biden administration unilaterally desert the deal, which would cause the past two decades efforts and achievements to go bust .  
Whatever approach the U.S. and the international community would maintain, let not Afghanistan decent into past chaos, as neither the international alliance nor the Afghan people can bear the burden any further .

Abdul Qahar Bakhshi is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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