By Abdul Ghafoor
May 19, 2015
Afghan Taliban held a meeting on May 2 with the representatives of the Afghan government and United Nation officials at Qatar. The eight-member Taliban delegation included various high officials headed by Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai; whereas, the Afghan government delegation was comprised of twenty members from three different ethnic groups of Afghanistan, led by the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s uncle- Qayyum Kochai. The meeting was organized by the Canadian organization Pugwash Council and titled “Afghanistan Dialogue”.
The Afghan government signified their consent for the re-opening of the Afghan Taliban office in Doha and the Taliban delegation agreed to hold talks with Afghan government in near future. However, no progress was made regarding a possible ceasefire. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan stormed at a check-post in Badakhshan province killing eighteen security personnel. The Taliban tied the condition of US and Western forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan to the ceasefire. Furthermore, they also demanded the removal of Taliban’s higher ranked officer’s names from the UN terrorism blacklist.
The Afghan Taliban talks with government are a positive sign for the peace and stability of Afghanistan and the region. A ‘political’ office of the Taliban enables them to hold direct talks with Afghan government, so as to reach a mutually-agreed mechanism for a future ceasefire. Albeit, it may be early to hold such a high expectations, particularly considering the fact that the Taliban have already declared the Afghan constitution as un-Islamic and drawn from the western values.
The Taliban are well aware that politico-ideological space has shrunk for them, and fighting may no longer be an option or lead to a solution for their ‘cause’. Therefore, the condition of western forces’ withdrawal and the current intensive spring-offensive against the Afghan government are clearly pressurizing maneuvers of the Taliban to put themselves in a better bargaining position with the Afghan government. Besides these extreme conditions, the Taliban have softened their stand on a number of other crucial issues, especially girls’ education.