Formal meetings between both sides of the Afghan peace negotiations in Doha have been suspended for the past 10 days and it is not clear when the meetings will be resumed.
Despite recent efforts in the diplomatic fronts in the past two weeks, the two sides of the negotiations have not managed so far to reach a conclusion about the procedural rules intended to kick start the direct peace negotiations aimed at ending the decades-long war in Afghanistan.
The two sides have agreed on 18 out of 20 articles for the procedural rules, but two main articles—religious basis for the talks and connection of the US-Taliban deal with the negotiations—remain unsolved. The Taliban insists that if a dispute emerges during the negotiations, the solution must be sought in the Hanafi jurisprudence and that the foundation for the talks should be the peace deal that the group signed with the US in late February. But the Afghan republic team has rejected the Taliban’s demands and has suggested some alternatives to the demands.
Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish at an event on the country’s judicial institutions in Kabul on Saturday said the government’s judicial system is a just system and that it should not be compared with the justice system of some groups like the Taliban.
The Taliban has not made an official comment about the resumption of the talks between the contact groups from the two sides, but the republic team has said that the talks will continue unless the two sides reach a settlement.
This comes days after US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said he expects the Afghan peace process to be concluded in months, not years.
The opening ceremony for the negotiations was held on September 12, but the two sides of the talks have not yet started their direct negotiations. However, they have held eight meetings between their contact groups to discuss procedural rules for the talks.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, on Saturday said that an early withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan will have some impacts on the ongoing peace process and the country’s situation but added that Afghans should be ready for any type of conditions and that they should work for their future together.
He made the remarks at an event at Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi on the last day of his four-day visit to India.
Abdullah said that whatever the decision on the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, Afghans should come together and make their nation and the country on their own and that it should not be dependent on staying or withdrawal of the troops.
“No doubt, if it (troops pullout) is done early or ahead of ensuring peace in the country, it will have its impact but despite that, the first and the last responsibility is on us, on Afghans, so that what can we do under such circumstances and how can we prevent a crisis. It has only one response: we should strengthen our unity,” Abdullah said.
Late last week, US President Donald Trump in a tweet promised to withdraw his forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year. However, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the withdrawal will be dependent to the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.
Abdullah said that there isn’t any “spoiler” of the peace process within the Afghan government but added that some individuals are concerned about the type of peace that will be made with the Taliban.
“I don’t say peace spoilers but those who are concerned that what type of peace should we expect in Afghanistan, what type of situation will we face?” said Abdullah.
Peace Negotiations in Brief
The republic’s team has proposed that if a religious issue arises it can be solved based on Hanafi jurisprudence by default, however, the Shia Personal Status Law should be respected, and the choice of religious jurisprudence should be given to other minority groups as well. Regarding the US-Taliban agreement, the republic’s team recommended four options.
First option: The terms of the US-Taliban agreement could be accepted as underlying the talks, however, the terms 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.