Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said on Thursday: “At this moment, the Taliban has taken a hard stance, which unfortunately is not helping the situation.”
"Our delegation is still in Doha and we are in contact and we hope this deadlock is only short-term,” Abdullah said at a ceremony recognizing the formation of a commission for political parties at the council.
"We know that nobody will win through war," Abdullah said, and "neither will anyone lose in peace."
Abdullah said: “At this point, the Taliban’s stance is pretty harsh and this does not help as we proceed with the job at hand—they say that the prisoners should be released, the foreigners must withdraw, they should be dropped from the list (the Taliban’s name should be removed from the UN blacklist)—they also have a few other conditions to announce a ceasefire,” said Abdullah.
Abdullah said that one of the preconditions in the US-Taliban peace deal was to reduce violence, which has not happened.
“One of the foundations of the agreement (US-Taliban peace agreement) is a reduction in violence. Has it happened? Of course not,” said Abdullah.
Abdullah made the remarks at the inauguration ceremony of the commission of political parties and political movements in Kabul.
Abdullah said that the main purpose of the establishment of the commission is to involve the Afghan political parties and political movements in the peace process.
“We want the various layers of the society, particularly the political parties, to be included as they have a key role in the process,” said Assadullah Saadati, the deputy head of the High Council of National Reconciliation.
“It will be good if there are representatives from the political parties in the commission,” said Sayed Hamed Gailani, the leader of Hizb-e-Mahaz-e-Milli.
“We are trying to empower the political parties in Afghanistan--both in war and in peace--and to help them play a role in the formation of a powerful political system,” said Minister of Justice Fazel Ahmad Manavi.
"Unfortunately, the violence has not been reduced, which is one part of the agreement (US and Taliban agreement)," Abdullah said, adding that the US will consider to what extent the Taliban was committed to the peace agreement, and a NATO meeting will be held soon to discuss Afghanistan.
“The reduction in violence was the demand of the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
The formation of political parties is one of the achievements of the people of Afghanistan, Abdullah said, "We will try to build a consensus of opinions in this commission."
Sources close to the Taliban have said that the unclear fate of the remaining Taliban prisoners, the group's presence on the UN blacklist, and a lack of clarity in the US position about the Doha deal, are among the key factors causing the Taliban to boycott the talks with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Doha.
'Hasty' US-Taliban deal
Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish on Wednesday said that the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban was signed in a hasty way and there are no solid guarantees that the future of Afghanistan will be stable or the peace process will reach a conclusion.
In a meeting with the representative of the ICRC in Kabul, Danish warned that the Afghan peace process will face more challenges if the February 29 peace deal between the US and the Taliban in Doha is not reconsidered.
“If this agreement is not reviewed by the leadership of the United States, we will face severe problems in the future,” said Mohammad Hedayat, media adviser to VP Danish.
This comes as US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in a phone conversation with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib on Jan. 22 said the Biden administration would review the Trump administration's February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, the White House said in a press release.
The Taliban have warned that if the US does not leave Afghanistan as per the Doha agreement in May, the next option for the group will be war.
“If they (US) says that we are not going to withdraw, of course, there will a fierce battle,” said Mawlavi Qalamduddin, a former Taliban commander.
There are 2,500 troops left in Afghanistan, and the agreement between the Taliban and former US President Trump stipulated that all of them should be removed by May 2021.
Last week, Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham in an interview with CBS said that the American troops will not leave Afghanistan in May, and he voiced support for the Biden administration's stance on Afghanistan and its bid to review the US-Taliban agreement.
“I'm very pleased with what the Biden administration is proposing for Afghanistan. We're going to keep troops there on a conditions-based approach,” Graham said.
Asked if the US troops would leave Afghanistan after May, Graham said, “I think we're not going to leave in May. We're going to leave when the conditions are right. The Taliban have been cheating. They haven't been complying. And so, I like what Secretary Blinken and the Biden administration is doing.”
Talk of interim government
As debates and discussions over the possibility of an interim government persist, the Afghan government has also accelerated efforts to gain political support from mainstream politicians in the country.
In recent weeks, President Ashraf Ghani held a series of meetings and consultations with some of Afghanistan’s influential political leaders, including Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, a former Jihadi commander, former President Hamid Karzai, former vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili. Ghani also designated his longtime critic Mohammad Mohaqiq as his adviser for political and security affairs.
Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency—the National Directorate of Security (NDS)--who is also a critic of Ghani, has said that the president is politically isolated and is trying to gain the support of Afghanistan’s major political parties and political movements.
Ghani last week also went to the residence of Abdullah Abdullah.
“Nothing has been built behind the scenes to implement or impose it in any way on the people of Afghanistan,” said Abdullah.
The Presidential Palace has not commented so far.