Eight days after the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations, the teams from both sides are seeking an agreement on three of over 20 articles of rules and regulations for the peace talks in Doha.
Both the Kabul and Taliban teams formed small groups called “contact groups” on the opening day of the talks on September 12. The contact groups have held five meetings so far to discuss rules and regulations as well as the agenda of the negotiations.
The regulations of the talks initially had 23 articles. It has been reduced to 20 articles after meetings of the contact groups, and it still may change.
Their disagreement is over three issues: The name given to the war, the religious legal system chosen for the negotiations, and the Taliban's demand to include the US-Taliban agreement as the foundation of the talks, according to TOLOnews reporter Karim Amini.
“Discussions are underway on the rules and regulations as well as the disputed points. We hope that it is finalized as soon as possible,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, spokesman for the High Council for National Reconciliation.
Information provided by sources from the two teams indicates that the Taliban is insisting on the war being called "jihad" and that the Hanafi jurisprudence is the religious basis for decision-making in the negotiations. The Taliban has also shown their opposition to mentioning the name of religions when it comes to decisions that have a religious basis.
According to article 131 of the Constitution, the courts shall apply the Shia jurisprudence in cases involving personal matters of followers of the Shia sect in accordance with the provisions of the law. In other cases, if there is no clarification in the Constitution and no other laws exist, the courts shall rule according to the laws of this sect.
“We identified each other over the last 20 years of democracy and within Afghanistan and we accepted each other. Afghanistan’s ethnic groups, the languages, the religions, were all discussed in the constitutional Loya Jirga and we officially recognized and accepted each other,” said Mohammad Mohaqiq, the head of the People's Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan, as he addressed a gathering in Kabul on September 18.
“The Hanafi jurisprudence is not everything. It does not mean all the Sharia law. We have many instances that beliefs of Hanafi jurisprudence are referring to other jurisprudences,” said Ghulamuddin Kalantari, a religious scholar.
Sources from the negotiating teams said another demand of the Taliban is that the US-Taliban agreement be the basis for the intra-Afghan negotiations, saying it should be an inseparable part of the talks.
The significance of this, according to sources, is that it means the Taliban will not be committed to the continuation of the intra-Afghan negotiations if the US-Taliban agreement is violated.
The two sides have agreed on the use of the word “problem” instead of war or jihad in the rules and regulations, according to a source, but it is not final. However, the republic's negotiating team has yet to agree on accepting the Hanafi jurisprudence as religious basis for the negotiations. It has also not agreed to the US-Taliban agreement as the foundation of the talks, sources familiar with the process said.
The negotiations started with the hopes to end the decades of war in the country. A number of Afghan politicians at a gathering on Friday called for unity among the people and support for the negotiating team that is representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the Doha talks.