Negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban are close to an agreement on the procedural rules of the talks in Doha, sources familiar with the process said on Friday.
Peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi said they expect to include ceasefire as a priority in their agenda once the two sides agree on the procedural rules of the talks.
“In our perspective, the issue of procedural rules or principles are not too important because they are technical issues about the modality of the negotiations,” Koofi said. “We hope that these talks are concluded soon so that we can enter into the formal negotiations, particularly the discussions about the ceasefire that has great importance to the people.”
The two sides of the talks have held more than 10 meetings in small group levels over the procedural rules. Their meetings have halted for more than a month.
“If the two sides agree on a mechanism that is acceptable for the people, I think the people will support it and peace will come,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
“A lot of efforts have been done so that the two sides start the peace negotiations,” said Sami Yousafzai, a journalist familiar with the process.
Negotiations between the Taliban and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan opened in Doha on September 12, but violence continues and even appears to be escalating since the talks were started.
The Taliban has staged attacks on the centers of at least 50 districts in 16 provinces of the country following the signing of the peace deal with the US in Doha in February and most of these attacks happened in the last two months after the start of the negotiations in Qatar on September 12, sources from various provinces Thursday.
Since the start of the talks in Doha, members of the contact groups of both sides of the peace negotiations have met several times to agree on the contested issue, however, no breakthrough has been achieved so far out of these talks.
The Taliban insists that if a dispute emerges during the negotiations, the solution must be sought using the Hanafi jurisprudence and that the foundation for the talks should be the peace deal that the group signed with the US on the 29th of February.
But the Afghan republic's team has rejected the Taliban’s demands and has suggested some alternatives.
What do ordinary Afghans say?
“They are killing our people every day. We give sacrifices every day. How long should we give sacrifices? what type of peace is this?” asked Farzad Majidpoor, a Kabul resident.
“I send my message and I beg for peace, which is my right. Do mercy on us, stop further violence. We are tired of this meaningless war,” said Yalda Yousufi, a resident of Kabul.