Sources say the Taliban held meetings with leaders in Pakistan to discuss Qatar talks with US.
The delegation led by Mawlawi Shahabuddin Delawar, a Taliban senior leader based in Qatar, met with leaders and agreed to a “short-term ceasefire” after an agreement is signed between the US and Taliban, according to sources.
The US delegation in meetings with the Taliban in Qatar demanded a ceasefire and a reduction of violence before signing any agreement with the group.
“They went (to Pakistan) to consult with their elders about short-time ceasefire and it seems that the consultation was positive and overall it’s possible to announce a ceasefire,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
The question now is whether the Taliban’s military commanders’ views are aligned with their leaders in Qatar.
“They (Taliban leaders) are our elders and are moving forward with consultations (among themselves) and we believe in them,” said Abubaker Marhaba, a Haqqani Network commander in Paktia.
“The peace will come with direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and Taliban. The Taliban should not ignore the current peace opportunity and it should respect the demands of the people for a ceasefire and a beginning of negotiations,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for the Afghan State Ministry for Peace Affairs.
Sources also said that the US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is in Qatar and waiting for the Taliban’s agreement over a reduction of violence and a ceasefire to pave the way for the signing of the agreement.
After a break was called for the current peace talks in Doha, Khalilzad visited Kabul and met Afghan leaders and politicians. Sources say that Khalilzad has returned to Qatar, but US officials have not confirmed the news.
Last week during a meeting in Kabul, Khalilzad in a tweet said: “We’re approaching an important stage in the Afghan peace process. Wrapped up two days of consultations in Kabul. Productive trip.”
Khalilzad also said that he met with the US ambassador in Kabul, John Bass, Gen. Austin Scott Miller, commander of US and NATO Forces in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai, women activists, and other political leaders and discussed efforts to reduced violence and pave the way to intra-Afghan negotiations.