Peace talks between the Taliban, Afghanistan government, and the US are currently on-going and will continue into this weekend in Doha, Qatar. The two sides are coming to the table to discuss how foreign forces, including US troops, can be withdrawn from Afghanistan without throwing the country into violence and chaos.
The meeting between the Taliban and Aghan government will be mediated by Qatar and Germany. The Taliban will also be meeting separately with the US government for a timeline of American troops’ withdrawal, reports Reuters.
Talks between all three parties— Taliban, Aghan government, and the US— have been on-going for a while, but mostly failed because of arguments over the size of Afghanistan’s delegation and it getting official diplomatic recognition.
The Taliban have also been unwilling to engage with Ashraf Ghani’s government because it claims that his administration is a “puppet” of the US. The group has agreed to broker an agreement with Aghan activists and other personalities on “equal footing”.
The Taliban has also come under pressure from the US for denoting a car bomb in Kabul on Monday, July 1.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The United States strongly condemns the horrific attack in Kabul today that killed an unconfirmed number of people and wounded more than 100 others, including as many as 50 children… We call on the Taliban to stop attacking civilians… [the attack] serves as a stark reminder of what is at stake in the peace process”.
US Special Representative in Qatar talks Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the attacks on Twitter, as well.
The peace process was initially supposed to be concluded by April 1, but has been delayed until July 20. The main point of contention is the timeline of US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Still, a political spokesperson told Al Jazeera that “80-90 percent work on the peace agreement is finished… Spectacular progress made in this round.”
What is the US-Taliban peace deal?
The Taliban became operational in the late ‘70s and ‘80s as a proxy of the CIA against the Soviet Union. However, when the group grew in size and power and managed to take control of Afghanistan, it imposed strict interpretations of Sharia law.
US President George Bush also accused the Taliban of protecting Osama bin Laden and invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack. Afghanistan has since been divided by the Taliban insurgency and internationally recognised Ashraf Ghani government with US troops as a wedge in the middle.
On January 28, the US and Tliban agreed to discuss terms of a peace deal that could finally bring the US’ twenty-year-long war in Afghanistan to an end.
According to the New York Times, the US and Taliban “agreed in principle to the framework of a deal in which the insurgents would guarantee that Afghan territory is never used by terrorists, which could lead to a full pullout of American troops in return for larger concessions from the Taliban.”
Previously, Khalilzad mentioned that the basic framework of the peace agreement is this: US troops will withdraw on the condition that Taliban ensure there is no terrorist activity in Afghanistan and engage in peace talks with Ashraf Ghani’s government.
Why does the US-Taliban peace deal matter for India?
India and Afghanistan have been on friendly enough terms for the former to provide humanitarian and military aid to the latter through Iran’s Chabahar Port.
While Taliban-sponsored terrorism in the South Asian region is an issue for India, the country must also consider the growth of Pakistan’s influence via the Taliban.
Experts say that to check Pakistan’s natural Islamic allyship to the group or the Afghan government, India must become a strong, indispensable strategic partner for Afghanistan in terms of trade, technology, and other resources.
India has also long supported the idea of an “independent” Afghan government, but has hesitated any direct action because the alternative could spark major geopolitical stress from the US, China, Pakistan, and all their international allies.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius