Chief negotiator Masoom Stanekzai on Thursday the road forward in the peace process might be challenging and that the peace efforts might open a new wave of violence in the country will if people’s demands are not addressed in the process.
“When we’re on the negotiating table, whether it is the right of the women, whether it is the right of the citizens, whether it is the lasting peace, because a peace that does not last for long, then that would mean that we will enter into a new cycle of violence,” Stanekzai said. “It is a challenging time, a bumpy road. It will be difficult, it will not be easy, but we will need the support of everyone, and we will be looking forward to the advice of both experts, our Afghan fellow men and women and their support in prayers.”
The negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban recently agreed on procedural rules for the talks. They held three meetings after their agreement on the procedural rules but paused their meetings for three weeks to hold consultations with their leaders on the demands that would be included in the agenda of the peace negotiations.
Meanwhile, First Lady Rula Ghani in an interview with Radio Azadi said the Taliban is not familiar with governance and that their mindset has remained unchanged.
“For God's sake, don’t do it, it is too dangerous,” Rula Ghani said, referring to a question about an interim government. “I don’t know what Mr. President’s response would be.”
“Women want peace much more than anyone in Afghanistan but what peace means to us? It is not just lack of war; it is justice, it is inclusivity and it is also a clear future for women in Afghanistan that can be educated, can work and we could have political participation,” said Fatima Gailani, member of the Afghan Republic’s negotiating team.
Barnett R. Rubin, an Afghanistan expert with the Center on International Cooperation, who also talked to the event, said that ending military presence in Afghanistan is important for the US than finding a political solution.
“The US has taken the position that withdrawal is conditions-based. The Taliban do not accept that. They retreated that in recent days and basically stated that if the deadline is not met then they would go back to war with the United States as well,” Rubin said. “The reason the United States is in a poor condition to force conditionality is that the United States did not enter into this process because it decided peace agreement was the best solution in order to protection it did so because it decided the military option wasn’t working and wanted to withdraw,” Rubin said.
The next round of talks is expected to begin on January 5.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met with the Taliban delegation led by their deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
The discussions focused on the progress in the Afghan peace process and the way forward, Khan’s office said.
In this meeting, Khan reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, adding that the Intra-Afghan negotiations provide a historic opportunity to the Afghan leaders for achieving durable peace and stability through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
He expressed hope that the Afghan parties would continue to build on the recent positive developments in the peace negotiations.
Khan underscored Pakistan’s consistent support to an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement, the statement said, adding that he also underlined the need to be vigilant about the role of spoilers, who continue to make attempts to disrupt and derail the peace process.
He expressed concern over the high level of violence and called on all sides for a reduction in violence leading to ceasefire.
The Prime Minister highlighted that return of peace and stability in Afghanistan would provide a strong impetus to economic development, regional integration, and connectivity, benefitting Afghanistan and the region.
The statement said that the Taliban delegation’s visit is part of Pakistan’s serious efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process to achieve a peaceful, stable, united, independent, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan.
Taliban visited Islamabad after the peace negotiations in Doha were paused for 23 days aimed at holding consultations with their leaders about both sides’ demands that they shared verbally with each other.