A crucial round of the so far stalled intra-Afghan peace talks began in the Qatari capital Doha with senior figures from the Afghan government and the Taliban sitting across the table, Anadolu Agency reported Saturday.
In his opening remarks, the Taliban's deputy head Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar said that peace and prosperity will prevail in Afghanistan with a "strong, centralized and independent Islamic system."
In a clear reference to Afghanistan's current democratic system of governance, he went on to say that "foreign" ideas and systems will not help with the country's problems.
"We want progress, we want a good and comfortable life, but not at the cost of our Islamic values, independence, and freedom," Baradar, one of the founding members of the Taliban movement in the 1990s, said.
The Afghan government is represented at these crucial talks with the Taliban by a top official delegation led by the chairman of the peace council, Abdullah Abdullah.
Sources in the Afghan government's peace delegation told Anadolu Agency that the Taliban had floated the idea of an extended cease-fire provided up to 7,000 more of their captives are freed by the Afghan government. They, sources said, also want their leaders to be removed from the UN sanctions list.
The Afghan government, on the other hand, has been hesitant to accept this idea as a way out after seeing many of the 5,000 Taliban who have already been freed return to the battlefield.
Since US President Joe Biden announced an exit plan from Afghanistan in May, the Taliban have captured over 150 districts in the war-weary country.
The intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha are part of the US-Taliban peace deal inked in February 2020, but both the Afghan government and the Taliban have been blaming each other for the lack of progress on the negotiation table since then.
China, Russia propose initiatives for peace in Afghanistan
Zamir Kabulov, the special envoy of the Russian president for Afghanistan proposed, a coalition transitional government for two to three years in Kabul to determine the future form of government. He said Afghans themselves must reach a comprehensive agreement.
He was speaking in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, where he attended the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
"The Afghan government and other influential political actors should enter into meaningful negotiations with the Taliban. The outcome of which should be the creation of a coalition transitional government," Zamir Kabulov was quoted by Anadolu News Agency as saying.
Kabulov further said considering that situation in Afghanistan is moving at a slow pace, an interim administration should be given two or three years to end hostilities and address a range of issues. That in turn will eventually determine the future form of government.
Ivan Safranchuk, an analyst from Moscow's International Relations Institute said that the situation in Afghanistan is expected to undergo a deep transformation with far-reaching implications for the region, in which the war also cannot be ruled out. He said that a political process backed by Russian diplomats is also progressing.
"Building up to a critical point there may appear some room for advancing a political process in which the Taliban are willing to participate in such interaction in the context of intra-Afghan dialogue which can steer their country away from another civil war," he added.
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