The long-anticipated peace deal between the United States and the Taliban will reportedly be signed on February 29, putting an end to the 19-year-old war. The US officials and Afghan Taliban will be signing the deal in Qatar's Doha. Subsequently, the US troops will purportedly prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan, after almost two decades, in a phased manner. After the deal signing, the troops are expected to pull out of the South East Asian country within 18 months, that is till August 2021.
On Wednesday, the US-Taliban officials notified that the two parties were close to signing a deal that will oversee the 'reduction in violence' in Afghanistan, putting an end to the bloody war. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that he had received a phone call from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling him of “notable progress” in the talks with the Taliban. The Taliban do not recognize the government in Kabul and have refused to negotiate directly with Ghani.
The Taliban had issued an ultimatum to Washington after weeks of talks with a U.S. peace envoy, demanding a reply on their offer of a seven-day reduction of violence in Afghanistan, or they would walk away from the negotiating table, two Taliban officials said Wednesday. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen has not commented on the peace deal yet.
The talks between the two were resumed in Qatar in December 2019, three months after the US President Donald Trump abruptly halted the diplomatic efforts and called it "dead." The peace deal was expected to focus on the 'reduction of violence' through a ceasefire and intra-Afghan negotiations. The US President Donald Trump had confirmed the resumption of talks, however, had refused to give a timeline for the drawdown of US troops. "Yes," Trump told a small group of reporters at the Bagram Air Field on November 29.
The US and the Taliban had appeared on the verge of signing a deal that would have seen Washington begin withdrawing thousands of troops in return for security guarantees. It was also expected to pave the way towards direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul and, ultimately, a possible peace agreement after more than 18 years of war. During a surprise visit to a US military base in Afghanistan in November, Trump said the Taliban "wants to make a deal."
Pakistan previously had welcomed the announcement of the resumption of the stalled talks between the US and the Taliban. Islamabad has been playing an active and negative role in Afghanistan, a US report asserted, stating that Islamabad is attempting to weaken the government in Kabul. As per a report, Pakistan has played an active, and by many accounts, a negative role in Afghan affairs for decades. "Pakistan's security services maintain ties to Afghan insurgent groups, most notably the Haqqani Network, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) that has become an official, a semiautonomous component of the Taliban," CRS, which periodically prepares reports on issues of importance for Congressmen for them to make informed decisions, said.
Islamabad's Afghan policy has been motivated to counter New Delhi's influence in Afghanistan, considering India's backing for the government of the country, which has brought some democratic normalcy in the war-torn country. Islamabad, by backing the armed group has contradicted New Delhi in Afghanistan, who has significantly contributed economically, culturally to the neighbour, and been the largest regional contributor to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.