- A crucial breakthrough in Doha talks
It is rightly maintained that there cannot be peace in Pakistan unless there is peace in Afghanistan. The positive developments during the 7th Doha round of talks between American negotiators and the Taliban leadership would therefore gladden many on this side of the Durand Line.
During the US-Taliban parleys that began on 29 June, two days were reserved for peace talks between the Taliban negotiators and a 50-member delegation of Afghan politicians, bureaucrat and civil society members, including women. Unlike the intra-Afghan conference in Moscow in April, members of the Afghan government also attended the meeting. albeit in their personal capacity, indicating flexibility on the part of the Taliban.
The US delegation and the Taliban have agreed on a ‘roadmap to peace’ that could hasten the end of the 18-year war. The USA and the Taliban are getting closer to a deal that is expected to be centred on a US promise to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism.
US delegation chief Zalmay Khalilzad has called the latest round of talks “the most productive” so far. A Taliban negotiator maintained that the latest round of negotiations in Doha has resulted in completion of ’80 to 90 percent’ of agreement.
Despite the effusiveness from both sides, there is still nothing in black and white duly signed by the USA and the Taliban. Washington is expected to make an announcement after a briefing from Khalilzad. The negotiations have ended successfully but the two sides still have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
As the PTI government did not share with Parliament anything regarding Pakistan’s role in making the talks successful, one will have to depend on foreign media reports to form an opinion. Intriguingly, the Taliban indicated in February that they were going to call on Prime Minister Imran Khan but then dropped the idea. It was maintained that they would attend the Bhurban Afghan peace conference, but the failed to turn up. There is a likelihood of a Taliban delegation coming to Pakistan now as the fight against the IS, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups that crisscross the Pak-Afghan border cannot be won by the Taliban alone.