The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday said that he has "returned to Doha and the region with expectations that the parties involved in the Afghan conflict will make tangible progress in the second round of Afghanistan peace negotiations.
Over the past few days Khalilzad has met mainstream Afghan politicians in Kabul including former president Hamid Karzai, the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah and other senior govt officials such as National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and former Mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaf.
However, a meeting between President Ashraf Ghani and Khalilzad has not taken place yet.
Sources familiar with Afghanistan's politics have said that the possibility of an interim administration is one of the reasons why President Ghani has so far refrained from meeting with Khalilzad.
The second round of talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban were set to begin in Doha on January 5. But the talks have not started for reasons that are unclear.
“A very serious message raised by Khalilzad about an interim setup, and very quick decisions taking place there---these events indicate that the Americans see a solution in an interim setup,” said Nasrullah Stanekzai, a legal expert in Kabul.
“The National Security Adviser in his meeting with the US Special Envoy stressed the need for a ceasefire,” said Rahmatullah Andar, a spokesman for the ONSC.
“Those who want an interim government are not naïve, but they call for it with complete cautiousness in order to prevent bloodshed in Afghanistan,” said Sayed Eshaq Gailani, a member of the High Council of National Reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the Afghan intelligence agency—the National Directorate of Security (NDS), in a Twitter post said that by May Afghanistan will see a new government.
“My understanding of the situation: By May 2021 the prefixes Republic & Emirate will be replaced by the word Government & the Islamic suffix will remain in place! This means that (Afghanistan) will soon have an Islamic Government, therefore neither an Islamic Emirate nor an Islamic Republic!” tweeted Nabil.
Previously, members of the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the talks with the Taliban said that the Taliban was in support of the establishment of an interim government in Afghanistan.
“An interim administration plan means rupture, the collapse and the dissolution of the Constitution,” said Sarwar Danish, the Second Vice President.
“We will have very tough talks about the agenda,” said Habiba Sarabi, a member of the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
“Some of the Taliban’s delegation members have not returned to Doha after their trips to Pakistan,” said Sami Yousufzai, a freelance journalist.
The Taliban have also said in the past that the future government will be their main priority in the peace talks.
The republic team however said that restoring a ceasefire will be their topmost priority in the talks.