The “momentous” peace deal between the United States and the Taliban was signed in Doha on February 29 but its negotiations date back to the time when Barack Obama was the President of the US. The Taliban spokesperson for Taliban's political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen told a state media said that the negotiations with Washington began with Obama's administration but it remained a secret.
As the insurgent group hopes to reach an agreement with the Afghan government before the total withdrawal of the international troops, its spokesperson has revealed that it took a long time to strike an accord with the US because even though they started a few years back, it was “away from the eye of the media”. According to the Taliban's spokesperson, it was only after US President Donald Trump took over the White House did both sides “openly talked” and the details were also shared with the world.
However, according to reports, he did not reveal when the talks had exactly begun but pointed out that the negotiations were underway during former US President, Obama's leadership. The final deal laid out the timetable for America's full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan within the period of 14 months marking US' exit from its longest war. According to international reports, the accord is expected to lead the way for a dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government, and if it turns out successful, it would end an 18-year-long conflict.
The peace deal was signed in a conference room of luxury Doha hotel, with Taliban fighter-turned-dealmaker, Mullah Baradar alongside Washington's chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad and the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Reportedly, as Baradar and Khalilzad finally inked the accord, the people in the room shouted, “Allahu Akbar”. Before that Pompeo had also urged the insurgents to “keep your promises to cut ties with Al-Qaeda”.
While the US promised the Taliban to release 5,000 prisoners of the militant group, the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has rejected the demand on March 1 as the condition for intra-Afghan talks. Ghani's statement reportedly came against the backdrop of the struggles faced by the American negotiators in steering Kabul administration and Taliban towards peace talks. After countless meetings when US and Taliban finally signed the accord, Ghani has said that the partial truce will continue “with goal” of reaching a full ceasefire but declined to release the Taliban prisoners and cited the “right and self-will” of Afghan citizens.
Ghani said, “There is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners. This is the right and the self-will of the people of Afghanistan. It could be included in the agenda of the intra-Afghan talks, but cannot be a prerequisite for talks”.
According to international reports, the agreement says that the US and the Taliban were committed to working towards the release of combat and political prisoners as a confidence-building measure with the coordination of all relevant sides. The agreement had also said that in exchange of freeing 5,000 jailed Taliban personnel, it would release 1,000 Afghan government captives on March 10. However, Afghan President has now claimed that “it is not in the authority of the United States to decide” and also called Washington “only a facilitator”.