News Analysis: Give-and-take to be required in intra-Afghan negotiations to end war

2020-12-07 07:36:03 GMT2020-12-07 15:36:03(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Muhammad Tahir

ISLAMABAD, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Political representatives of the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government started discussions to prepare an agenda for the intra-Afghan negotiations after both sides agreed on the rules of procedures for the long-expecting talks.

The agreement on a code of conduct was reached by both sides in Doha, Qatar, recently and it was seen as a major breakthrough achieved after nearly two-and-half-month hectic talks. Now both sides are set to start formal negotiations for an agreement over the future political roadmap of the war-torn country.

The preamble of 21-point rules of procedure says that the intra-Afghan negotiations will be conducted on four fundamentals including the Doha agreement signed on Feb. 29 this year. Both sides also have promised to start the negotiations with a will, determination, and in a positive atmosphere to make the process a success, the three-page agreement said.

The Taliban-U.S. agreement signed in February said that a "permanent and comprehensive ceasefire will be an item on the agenda of the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations."

Pakistani and Afghan experts are of the view that the recent agreement is a breakthrough but urged the Taliban and the Afghan government to take steps to remove mistrust at the start of the negotiations.

Pakistani senior diplomat Asif Khan Durrani worried about the difficult time ahead for the Afghan peace process as both sides will have a heavy agenda on the table and a test case for them how to resolve complicated issues.

"The Taliban and the Afghan government will have to go for a give-and-take as there would be many many things during the discussions," Durrani told Xinhua.

Durrani expected that tough discussion on issues like the fate of the incumbent government, the parliament, elections, the constitution, future of the Taliban fighters, whether the Taliban become part of the political set up, what would be their share and other similar issues.

"Things will move forward when both sides show flexibility to end the war," the former Pakistan ambassador, who has served in Iran and the United Arab Emirates, told.

Representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government said that a joint committee will be set up for discussions to decide agenda items for the formal intra-Afghan negotiations.

Zakir Jalali, an Afghan analyst, viewed the agreement on a code of conduct for the formal negotiations as major progress because both sides have agreed on a framework and ended a stalemate.

"Both sides should now take some confidence-building measures as the Taliban have some mistrust as they think the government is wasting time and it has also lots of reservations about the Taliban approach towards the peace process," Jalali told Xinhua.

"I am hopeful that there will be a reduction in violence when both sides create trust but violence will rise when there is mistrust. I hope both sides will enter formal negotiations with a positive approach so the trust leads to a reduction in violence," he said.

Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government negotiation team, has said in reported comments that a joint committee will start work to discuss agenda items and to finalize a draft. He said the government team will call for a ceasefire which is a key demand of the people of Afghanistan in the Afghan peace talks.

A positive aspect of the Taliban-government agreement is that both countries have opposed the role of a third country in intra-Afghan negotiations. The agreement said the host country will only have the role of a facilitator but will not take part in the meetings. Enditem