Notwithstanding its official status, the peace negotiations between the Afghan Government and Taliban officials brought some seemingly positive indications to the fore which suggest that today’s Taliban are not as inflexible as of the yesteryears.
The Qatar talks remain inconclusive and vague but the two-day deliberations paint a comparatively new face of Taliban, who refused to share power with what they called “puppets” of America and other western powers in Kabul. Not only have this, the Taliban for the first time openly accepted to respect the stance and arguments of the opponents, to cooperate in economical, educational and shared cultural spheres.
“We stand for one and united Afghanistan and are ready to work for it collectively. We want a system where the sacrifices of martyrs are respected, peace and justice if ensured, development and economic prosperity is for all and both men and women have access to education and freedom of speech with the framework of Islamic and Afghan values,” said a communique released by Taliban after the Qatar talks. Reuters reported the Taliban delegates also called for the removal of key Taliban leaders’ names from a U.N. terrorism blacklist so they could travel to negotiations, according to the statement by the Pugwash Council, a global organization that promotes conflict resolution. It co-hosted the talks with Qatar’s government. Pugwash said more than 40 representatives including several Afghan women had attended the Qatar meeting.
Apart from the removal of Taliban names from list of wanted terrorists, the Taliban delegation asked yet for anther concession to allow them open “political office” in Doha to facilitate them in holding future rounds of peace talks as well as responding to happenings and reports concerning them.
The Afghan government has not responded to Taliban’s communique but an official of the High Peace Commission in Kabul told OVA Deewa that he was looking forward to the positive outcome of the peace talks.
The personality and reputation of President Ashraf Ghani, analysts believe was more acceptable to the Taliban and other anti-government groups compared to the leaders of former Mujahideen. President Ghani has not lived in the shadow of Pakistani intelligence agencies as well. Taliban have so far, however, failed to absolve its body from Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.
The indications are that Taliban seems ready to accept a constitution for the country to be framed and weighed by competent Afghans and placed before the Afghan nation for approval. Hitherto Taliban wanted only their brand of Islam_a mix of sharia and conservative tribal mindset, as the supreme law of the land and always termed democracy as un-Islamic. Asking the Afghan nation for the approval of the would be new constitution, analysts say is a major shift in Taliban policy. Taliban communique said that the present Afghan constitution has been copied from the west.
However, one wonders what new religious sections Taliban would like to add to the current heavily ‘Islamized’ constitution, painfully put together by the radical Mujahideen leaders, former Taliban associates, tribal elders and Afghan technocrats.
To show that Taliban acted independently and were free from influence of others, a reference to Pakistan, the communique also criticized the Afghan government for asking “neighbors” to help in the peace talks. “Instead of approaching the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, efforts have been made to approach the neighboring countries for peace talks,” the release said.
The main area of concern for the success of talks will be an agreement on the time frame of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as Kabul has reached an agreement with Washington to extend the role of US combat troops till the end of 2016. The other issue will be the co-option of some Taliban representatives in the government as well as in the parliament in case of a rapprochement. This is highly unlikely that Afghan government and its allies will agree to nullify the hard-earned results of the Afghan elections, in case Taliban insist on this demand