United States Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad met with the Taliban leader in Pakistan on October 4. This is the first meeting since President Donald Trump last month announced the peace deal to end Afghanistan's 18-year war as “dead”. Donald Trump had cancelled the peace talks after the Kabul terror attack with killed an American soldier along with 11 people. According to a Pakistani Foreign Ministry official, the meeting occurred for more than an hour. This development was also confirmed by a former member of the group in Kabul who reportedly maintains a friendly relation with Taliban leadership.
The US State Department, however, has not made any comment on the reports of the meeting except that Khalilzad had travelled to Islamabad to meet Pakistani officials. According to a statement released by the US State Department states, the US Special Representative's trip to Pakistan did not represent a “re-start of the Afghan Peace Process”. This was also the tenth round of meetings between the US and the Taliban only aiming at ending the prolonged war of nearly two decades in Afghanistan. The Taliban delegation was purportedly led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the group who was also ousted in 2001 by the US.
Reportedly, more than 14,000 troops are still in Afghanistan and President Trump has expressed his disagreement with the ongoing deployment. The US leader believes that the American soldiers have taken the responsibility of policing the country which should be the responsibility of the Afghan government. Moreover, the death of a US soldier in Kabul caused President Trump to end the peace talks including the cancellation of an agreement signing ceremony in Camp David about which not many people were aware of.
In recent weeks the Taliban officials have reportedly travelled to China, Russia, and Iran to gather support for a return to diplomatic talks.
However, Afghanistan is still waiting for the outcome of presidential polls which were scheduled on September 28. The main leaders contending in Afghanistan elections are President Ashraf Ghani and his partner, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Abdullah reportedly claimed that he has won while Ghani's supporters believe that he has the required votes. This has also fueled the fear of political chaos. The preliminary results are not expected before October 17, and the finals results will not be out until November 7.
(With agency inputs)