Pakistan has assured the leader of the Hizb-e-Islami party that Islamabad will work “honestly” in the Afghan peace process.
Hekmatyar, making comments about his recent trip to Pakistan, said that peace will come to Afghanistan and he will play his role in the peace process, adding that Pakistan has assured him that Islamabad will work “honestly” in the Afghan peace process.
Regarding the security issue in the country, Hekmatyar said that the security of the country is the responsibility of the government and “if it is not able to, then it should be left to the people to provide security.”
Five days ago, Hekmatyar at an Islamabad press conference said that the United States has been “defeated in Afghanistan,” adding that the US has “no choice except to leave the country.”
Regarding the current peace process between the negotiating sides in Doha, Hekmatyar said that the current talks in Doha are between the teams of the Presidential Palace and the Taliban, stating that the Doha talks are not intra-Afghan talks.
“Current talks in Doha are between the team of the Arg (Presidential Palace) and the Taliban. These talks are not intra-Afghan talks, because many Afghan political parties are not present in these talks, we are not there. There is a need for consensus first so that we can go toward the talks with a unified idea,” he had said.
In Pakistan, Hekmatyar met with top Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Talks Continue on Procedural Rules in Doha
The talks on the procedural rules continue between both sides of the Afghan peace negotiations, a spokesman for the High Council for National Reconciliation Faraidon Khwazoon said on Saturday, as violence continues to take lives of Afghans in large numbers.
Khwazoon said a meeting about the agenda of the negotiations is expected to happen soon.
“Discussions continue between the two sides on the disputed points. We hope that an agreement is reached — including the recommendations and the suggestions from the two sides– so that we can have a roadmap for the formal talks,” said Khwazoon.
But sources in Doha told TOLOnews that the Taliban is still insisting that the US-Taliban agreement should be the foundation for the talks.
The contact groups are meeting in an attempt to establish procedural rules and an agenda for the talks.
The two sides have agreed on 18 out of 20 articles for the procedural rules, but the two main articles—the religious basis for the talks and the acknowledgment of the US-Taliban deal as the underlying agreement for the current negotiations—remain unsolved.
The Taliban insists that if a dispute emerges during the negotiations, the solution must be sought using the Hanafi jurisprudence and that the foundation for the talks should be the peace deal that the group signed with the US in late February.
But the Afghan republic’s team has rejected the Taliban’s demands and has suggested some alternatives.
The peace negotiations between teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban started on September 12; however, so far, direct talks have not started because of disagreements on procedural rules for the negotiations.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid on Thursday said Trump’s statement was welcome and he considered it a “positive step” for the implementation of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban signed in Qatar earlier this year.
But Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, said a “premature” withdrawal of US troops would have negative consequences for the war-torn country.
“It will take a little bit [of] time for us to digest it,” Abdullah said at an event organised by a think-tank in India’s capital, New Delhi.
“It will happen one day, of course, and Afghanistan should be able to stand on its own feet, but if it is premature, it will have its consequences.”
“Nineteen years is enough. They’re acting as policemen, OK? They’re not acting as troops,” Trump later told Fox Business Channel.
No breakthrough yet in intra-Afghan talks
If the withdrawal happens, it would be months ahead of the schedule laid out in the US-Taliban deal which said the US troops would be out of Afghanistan in 14 months, provided the Taliban promised not to allow foreign groups to launch attacks on the Afghan soil.
Trump’s surprise tweet came as the Taliban and the Afghan government-appointed negotiating team have been holding historic peace talks in Qatar’s capital, Doha, for nearly a month.
Those talks have been painfully slow as both sides have become bogged down on the intricacies of how they would go forward with reaching an agreement.
Still, both sides have stayed at the negotiating table even as Washington’s peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, returned to the region last week.
Pakistan has helped shepherd the Taliban to the negotiating table and its role is seen as critical for lasting peace in Afghanistan.
Even as the warring sides meet in Doha to map out what a post-conflict Afghanistan might look like, Washington and NATO have already begun reducing their troops’ numbers.
Washington is now down to below 5,000 troops from an estimated 13,000 when it signed the agreement with the Taliban on February 29.
But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance should decide collectively to leave together “when the time is right”, based on the security situation on the ground.
“NATO is in Afghanistan to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists,” he said in Brussels on Thursday.
Fighting in the country persists as the Taliban continues to reject a ceasefire with Kabul despite the start of the peace negotiations in Doha.