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November 18, 2018

Breakthrough expected after parleys between Taliban, US envoy

National

November 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A breakthrough is expected in the aftermath of three-day parleys between Special US Envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad with a senior and powerful Taliban group in Qatar.

Sources in Peshawar and Kabul said the two sides have agreed on almost all tricky issues including foreign troops’ exit schedule as well as mechanism to mainstreaming of Taliban in country’s polity without a role of northern alliance led by vice president Rashid Dostum.

Khalilzad, who was scheduled to visit Islamabad, had postponed his visit to reschedule it may be in last week of the current month. As a result of latest talks, the US may formally ask Kabul to delay April next year’s presidential elections to give way to the political settlement between various political power centres in the civil strife stricken country.

Providing assurances to the Americans with regard to their policy towards human rights, female education and their role in services especially in health and teaching professions, the Taliban have also sought world’s assurances that no power or state will interfere in Afghanistan in the future.

They have expressed their willingness to work with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar if he is acceptable to the US. Biggest challenge for the stakeholders at present is ending civil war to allow return of normalcy to the country which is not possible as long as Taliban’s demand of foreign troops’ total withdrawal is achieved, a Taliban source said after the talks.

Sources privy to the process expect that the US may soon make an official announcement with regard to its pull out from Afghanistan in 2020 and also its future strategy in the region.

It is pertinent to recall that President Trump had announced a complete pull out from Afghanistan after his election which could not be materialised due to various successive developments.

However, the Kabul regime has made its displeasure clear about exclusive parleys between US represented and Taliban without its involvement. President Ashraf Ghani feels that in case of presidential election postponement, the writ of his government would further recede and civil strife would further escalate.

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