KABUL: As security deteriorates, there is no sign of any significant development in the peace talks between high-ranking Afghan officials and the Taliban leaders in the Qatari capital, Doha.
The talks between a top Afghan delegation led by Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), and the Taliban negotiating team started on Saturday.
Among others, one of the main discussing points was a permanent ceasefire which the Taliban have refused.
Instead, the Taliban has offered a month-long ceasefire in return for the release of 7,000 Taliban fighters in the government prisons.
The government has already released over 5,000 Taliban, most of whom, officials say, have gone back to the battlefield.
“Let’s … take important steps to continue the peace process, to prevent the killing of the people,” Dr. Abdullah Abdullah told the negotiating teams. “We cannot pay the price for this in blood, and we cannot escape responsibility for it.”
Taliban’s deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, insisted that “There should still be hope and the Taliban will make efforts for talks to have a positive result,” stating, “we should ignore our personal interests.”
Both sides expressed the need for national unity, with Mr. Abdullah stating, “Afghans want the continuation of the world’s support to the peace process” and Mullah Baradar saying, “We should end lack of trust and should make efforts for the nation’s unity.”
Publicly, both the parties seem to use the same language and highlight their desires for peace, but the reality in the ground differs.
In recent months, the Taliban has unleashed all the fighters and are marching on district and provincial centers all across the country.
The militant group has overrun more than a hundred district centers, destroying some buildings, infrastructure and committing extrajudicial killings.