Representatives of two mainstream political parties in the country on Sunday said that a potential peace agreement between the US and the Taliban will not lead to sustainable peace in the country unless there is an agreement on a ceasefire.
Top negotiators from the US and the Taliban continued their talks for the fourth day on Sunday where they are discussing key topics, including reduction of violence and the nature of the presence of US intelligence after a possible peace deal.
“Any agreement without a ceasefire and without clarifying the future of the Taliban fighters will not lead to durable peace,” said Abdullah Qarloq, deputy head of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan also called as Junbish-e-Milli party.
“If the issue of ceasefire is not addressed in the agreement which is expected to be signed, I think it will raise serious concerns,” said Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, member of Jamiat-e-Islami party.
Sources familiar with the talks said the two sides have apparently agreed on some issues including a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, assurance that threats will not be staged from the Afghan soil against any other country and also the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.
“It seems that an agreement will be signed about the issue that the Americans will abandon night raids and bombardments once the two sides seal a deal and in exchange the Taliban refrain from launching attacks on major cities,” political analyst Wahid Muzhda said.
“Recent statements by the US president have somehow damaged the talks and these issues harm mutual trust between the two sides,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
Sources said the two sides will sign the peace deal within the next few days which will be followed by intra-Afghan negotiations.
As part of a peace deal, the number of US forces will reduce to 5,000 from the current 14,000, sources said. The troops will be withdrawn from five American bases, which according to President Ghani, they are “small bases” and the reduction will not impact the situation of Afghanistan.
This comes as US Senator Lindsey Graham has once again warned that American pulling troops out of Afghanistan would lead to “another 9/11”, saying that America cannot “outsource” its national security to the Taliban.
Mr. Graham issued a similar warning ahead of US President Donald Trump meeting with his security advisors last month where they discussed issues around a possible peace deal with the Taliban – the militant group which is seeking the withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan in exchange for ceasefire and intra-Afghan negotiations.
“If we left tomorrow, the Taliban cannot be trusted to take care of ISIS [Daesh] and al-Qaeda,” Graham said in an interview with Fox News on Saturday.