The contact groups from both sides of the Afghan peace negotiations in Doha met twice on Wednesday but did not reach an agreement about the procedural rules intended to guide the formal talks.
Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that the meetings will continue in order to reach an agreement so the talks can proceed, however, sources on the republic's team have said that the Taliban is not willing to show any flexibility in its position.
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 for the talks initially had 23 articles. They were reduced to 20 after meetings were held between the contact groups, and they still may change, say sources.
According to sources, these are the issues being debated:
The Taliban demands recognition of the US-Taliban agreement as the 'mother deal' for the Afghan peace negotiations, and Hanafi Fiqh as the sole religious reference for the talks.
Reports say that the republic has suggested alternatives to the Taliban’s demands.
The republic's team has proposed that if a religious issue arises it can be solved based on Hanafi Figh by default, however, the Shia Personal Status Law must be respected, and the choice of religious jurisprudence should be given to other minority groups as well.
Regarding the US-Taliban agreement, the republic team recommended four options:
First option: The tenets of the US-Taliban agreement could be accepted as underlying the talks, however, the tenets of the joint declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and the US should also be accepted as applicable.
Second option: Neither the US-Taliban agreement nor the declarations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the US and NATO will be recognized as having any authority, and the negotiations will move forward based on the decisions of the consultative Loya Jirga and the Jirga's declarations.
Third option: Both sides start talks "based on the national interest of Afghanistan."
Fourth option: The Quran and Hadith are the main authority for the talks, replacing all others.
Sources on the republic's team have said that the Taliban has rejected the alternatives.
“Western media and other political analysts constantly said over the past few years that the Taliban has changed, the Taliban has learned, the Taliban are now enlightened--our expectation was the same. The international organizations and credible Western institutions carried out an extensive propaganda campaign,” said Abdul Hafiz Mansour, a member of the republic's team.
“They (Taliban) think that the Afghan delegation here in [Doha] represents the government, [the Taliban] thinks that they will take our (republic team) time and we will be under pressure and we will go back, but we are not going anywhere, we will stay here,” said Attaullah Ludin, a member of the republic's team.