In the latest developments in reviving the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the militant group has refused to talk to the 21-member team announced by the Afghan government. The Taliban’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid on March 28 said that group has decided not to proceed with the negotiations as the team announced by the Afghan government was not selected in a way that included “all Afghan factions”.
Afghan government’s Ministry of Peace Affairs announced the team on March 26 and United States, special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad also praised the team as “inclusive”. The team lead by Masoom Stanekzai, former chief of the National Directorate of Security and supporter of President Ashraf Ghani includes other politicians as well as former officials.
Even though the ‘momentous’ peace deal between the US and Taliban was signed in February, the progress on negotiations with Afghanistan and the militant group has been delayed by the feud among country’s politicians. Some other reasons for the delay were also the disagreements between the Taliban and government over preconditions for talks included in the US-Taliban deal stating the release of group’s prisoners in Afghanistan.
According to international media reports, the Taliban spokesperson also said that by announcing the team, Afghan government “violated” the agreement with the US and claimed that other all sides had not agreed to the team. Mujahid further added that in order to reach “true and lasting peace”, the team put forth by the country should be agreed upon by all effective Afghan sides for a wholesome representation.
According to reports, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Peace affairs, Najia Anwari responded to the Taliban’s refusal and claimed that the team was formed after a wide consultation of different layers of Afghan society. Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s rival Abdullah Abdullah has not yet confirmed if he supported the delegation. This move is highly anticipated by many diplomats as it would make a significant difference in the negotiations due to Abdullah’s strong influence in the country’s north and west.