Negotiators from both sides of the Afghan negotiations have conflicting accounts about the reports of recent progress in their discussions.
This comes a day after the Taliban’s spokesman in Doha, Mohammad Naeem, said that negotiators from both sides on November 15 agreed on procedural rules with 21 items for the intra-Afghan talks and it was read out in Pashto and Dari & a copy was delivered to the host nation.
The republic’s team have said that the procedural rules are still not finalized and the preface needs more explanation.
Sources familiar with the talks in Doha said that the Afghan government insists that the position of the Loya Jirga be taken as a foundation of the talks along with the US-Taliban peace agreement. But the Taliban has rejected the demand.
“The procedure of Intra-Afghan negotiations between the negotiating teams was completed and finalized in 21 articles on the 15th of November 2020,” tweeted Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban.
The peace negotiations between teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban started on September 12; however, to date no direct talks have started because of disagreements on procedural rules for the negotiations.
“The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is there with full authority in hand. The foundation of the talks are the Constitution of Afghanistan and the proposals made by the Consultative Loya Jirga on Peace,” said Dawa Khan Menapal, a deputy spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani.
“The more disagreements are deepened among us, the more the position of the republic’s delegation becomes weak, then the doubt of the people changes into certainty and they think that interest of prolonging power is what is at work,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of National Directorate of Security (NDS).
“The Afghan team in Doha has expressed concerns over the Taliban’s statement, they also complained to the Qatar govt that such statements should be expressed after an agreement,” said Sami Yousufzai, a freelance journalist in Doha.
Sources close to the Taliban have said that a continued disagreement could push the talks into a stalemate.
“This will lead to a deadlock in the talks, this will also increase the war,” said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a university lecturer.
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.
Reconciliation Council Incomplete Due to Govt Opposition: Khan
Ismail Khan said external opposition is causing the delay in the appointments of the members of the council.
A senior member of Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ismail Khan, on Thursday said opposition coming from within the government is stopping the appointment of members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, and that to date the council has not held any official meetings with its members.
The Reconciliation Council, led by Abdullah Abdullah, faces criticism for the delay in filling its member posts, something which will impact the decisions made by negotiators in Doha.
Khan said external opposition is causing the delay in the appointments of the members of the council.
“The reason that the negotiations of the Afghan government and the Taliban are not yielding a result is that there are some who are supporting, directing and strongly planning for this. The directions should have been given by the High Council for National Reconciliation, but, so far, the council has not filled all its member posts,” Khan said.
Following the criticism of the council, Abdullah Abdullah on Thursday met with former president Hamid Karzai and former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf and discussed the peace process, the Doha talks and recent developments in the country, Abdullah said on Twitter.
In August, President Ashraf Ghani in a decree announced the appointment of members of the leadership of the High Council for National Reconciliation. Former president Hamid Karzai and other prominent politicians were on Ghani’s list but declared their opposition to being appointed. Abdullah’s office at the time said that the appointment of the council’s members was the duty of the council itself.
“The negotiating team in Doha will not have the authority to make decisions if the members of the High Council for National Reconciliation are not appointed,” said Shahzada Massoud, a former presidential adviser.
“Some activities have been carried out by the council and, also, some political movements have not provided the required cooperation in this respect,” said Fahim Kohdamani, an analyst.
Critics said the Doha talks would not have faced such a delay if the formation of the Reconciliation Council had been completed.
“Unfortunately, so far, the High Council for National Reconciliation’s members have not been appointed, for whatever reason,” said Faizullah Jalal, a university lecturer.
Meanwhile, the EU delegation in Kabul calls for the “swift establishment and operationalization of the High Council of National Reconciliation,” a body designated to provide guidance to the peace negotiations.