Thursday, March 21, 2019 | ePaper

US-Taliban talks and the fate of Afghan people

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US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their 16 days of talks, longest round of peace talks in the recent time held in Qatar's capital Doha on Tuesday but failed to sign an agreement specifically when foreign troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan.  What's most significant is that, Talibans have so far refused to talk to the Afghan government. However, the US during the talks sought assurances that the Taliban would not allow militant groups to use Afghanistan to stage attacks.
Taliban's political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Afghan-born veteran US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad led their respected sides during the talks. "……When the agreement in draft about a withdrawal timeline and effective counter-terrorism measures is finalised, the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire," Khalilzad said on Twitter. That means message is clear. Apparently, there is no progress in the talks.  
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid clearly said no agreement was reached on a ceasefire or talks with the Afghan government. On the other hand, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that he hoped to see a long-term ceasefire agreement and the start of direct talks between the government and Taliban soon.
The Qatar talks ended on Tuesday at a time when Talibans stepped up pressure on the battlefield, killing 20 Afghan soldiers and capturing another 20 in western Afghanistan. Besides, an air strike killed both Taliban fighters and civilians in another province. The Afghan people have been trapped in a civil war - one side is Taliban and other side is Afghan government, backed by the US. The Talibans are now specifically targeting Afghanistan's fragile, fledgling democracy with continuing attacks on government ministries and organisations.  
Presently, about 14,000 US troops are based in Afghanistan as part of a US-led NATO mission to assist Afghan forces. So, there is no way for US government but to pressurized the Talibans to agree to a ceasefire and to talk with Afghanistan government. But it's true like day light that, Talibans are still refusing to sit in a dialogue with present Afghan 'puppet' government. The situation is like that; the US can't win the war, neither can leave it.

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