Ghani visits Qatar as peace talks stall, but will not meet Taliban officials

DOHA: According to government officials, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is travelling to Qatar for a bilateral meeting with the leaders of Gulf states, but will not hold talks with the Taliban representatives – even as peace talks are underway.

Negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban were initiated last month, with the intention of both sides agreeing to a reduction in violence, and a possible power-sharing agreement – with no tangible progress, as both conflicting sides continue to become bogged down in the procedural aspects of the process.

The intra-Afghan talks are part of a landmark peace agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban in February, which included a stipulation that all foreign forces will leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for tangible counterterrorism measures from the Taliban, a permanent ceasefire, and a mutually acceptable power-sharing formula with the Afghan government.

Unfortunately, even in the midst of a crippling global pandemic and ongoing talks between Afghan negotiators, violence has not abated, as scores of Afghan soldiers and militants have been killed in clashes and suicide attacks across the country, with an indication that there is a certain degree of factional infighting within the Taliban as well. The Afghanistan War Casualty Report by the New York Times has shown that at least 429 members of pro-government forces and 134 civilians were killed in September alone, the highest tally since the onset of the historic peace deal in February.

President Ghani as his convoy will be stopping first in Kuwait, to attend the funeral of the late Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, before travelling to Qatar later today.