Abdullah Abdullah is optimist about Afghan peace talks

The Afghan government and Taliban negotiators are about to develop a consensus on key issues that have halted peace talks in Doha, Abdullah Abdullah shared his positive feelings while speaking in Islamabad as he finished a three-day visit to Pakistan.

Abdullah Abdullah optimist about the success of peace talks. He as chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation that is overseeing Kabul’s peace talks with the Taliban. He claimed that after consistent and several small-group meetings in Doha, the issue had been resolved “to a large extent.”

Both, the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators, are about to develop a consensus on key issues that have halted peace talks in Doha, a senior Afghan official has said.

Religious Consensus

Talks started in Doha on September 12, but due to continuous and intensive violence, all the optimistic hopes were marred. The major disagreement was over the appropriate interpretation of Islam for developing laws in post-conflict Afghanistan.

The Taliban as Sunni hardliners insisted on the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, but government negotiators worried this could create discrepancies for the Shi’ite Hazara community and other religious minorities.

“Both sides have provisionally agreed to recognise the principal issue of Hanafi’s role without any discrimination to Shia communities or minorities, so … the compromise is around that,” Abdullah said.

Resolution of this religious issue means negotiators have overcome a major obstacle in the agenda for talks, which, no doubt, could take years to complete.

The legitimacy of the Afghan government

Recognition of the legitimacy of the Afghan government is another stumbling block. It is very critical and confusing to determine the extent to which the Taliban recognise the legitimacy of the present government under a future deal.

The Taliban have always perceived President Ashraf Ghani’s government as a US-enabled “puppet” regime. In the deal the Taliban cut with Washington in February, they did not have to recognise Kabul.

Similarly, the Taliban now want any future peace deal to exclude overt references to the government and instead to frame the agreement as some sort of “intra-Afghan” accord.

Without sharing details, Abdullah claims the positive progress from two sides on the issue.

He said after a slow start, the negotiating teams were now “getting along quite well and this latest impasse, hopefully, we will overcome it soon.”

‘Positive feelings’

Abdullah shared his positive feelings while speaking in Islamabad as he finished a three-day visit to Pakistan.

The South Asian nation has had dismal relations with neighbouring Afghanistan, with Kabul frequently accusing Islamabad of harbouring Taliban fighters and funding the insurgency.

Pakistan categorically denies such support and rejects the allegations, but at the same time, Pakistan has claimed its influence over the Taliban encouraged them to hold talks with Washington, which paved the way for current peace talks.

“I leave Pakistan with positive feelings and positive senses,” Abdullah said, adding he had asked Pakistani authorities to communicate Taliban Taliban to reduce violence, which shows that the Taliban are not obeying cease-fire.

“My sense is this would be communicated publicly and in other ways,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zalmay Khalilzad as a US envoy is due to arrive in Doha later Wednesday to “express US support for a negotiated settlement that brings an end to 40 years of war,” the US State Department said.

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