Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (right) arrives at the Pakistan Foreign Ministry in Islamabad. File/AFP
The flurry of activity — including Taliban visits to Iran and Moscow, and a planned trip to Turkey — comes as the Afghan government’s negotiating team warned this week that if the Taliban fail to resume the talks, the government could recall its team from Doha.
The peace talks resumed in early January in Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office, but quickly halted, marred by a spike in violence across Afghanistan, with the warring sides blaming one another.
A Taliban official said the talks stalled after the Taliban demanded the government side accept a new "inclusive Islamic system" that includes all "tribes and groups" in Afghanistan — language that indicates the Taliban seek guarantees that Islamic rule would be in place in post-war Afghanistan.
A man walks past a wall painted with images of Zalmay Khalilzad (left) and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul. File/AFP
The government instead demanded the Taliban first join the current political system and declare a cease-fire, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
However, Nader Nadery, a government negotiator, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it was the Taliban who have until now refused to return to the negotiating table. He denied any discussions over competing agendas.
In Kabul, deep divisions have emerged between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political opponents over what some see as Ghani's unwillingness to consider a power-sharing deal with the Taliban that could prematurely end his presidency, before 2024.
Ghani's opponents have set up a 21-member parliament committee to possibly meet separately with the Taliban, accusing Ghani of stalling peace talks to remain in power. Ghani's supporters, meanwhile, say the committee us trying to unseat the president.
The Pentagon said last week that the Taliban’s refusal to meet commitments to reduce violence in Afghanistan is raising questions about whether all US troops will be able to leave by May as required under the US-Taliban deal.
The deal calls for all international troops to pull out, but only if the Taliban honor a promise to abandon their connection with terrorist groups — such as Al Qaeda — and guarantee that their territory would not be used to attack the US or its allies.
"A political settlement needs to happen before the exit of foreign troops because after their exit, chances of agreement among Afghans is slim to none,” increasing prospects for a civil war, said Torek Farhadi, a political analyst.
The Taliban have threatened to step up their their war if US and NATO troops remain in Afghanistan after the May deadline.
Since the agreement signed last February under former President Donald Trump, the Taliban have not attacked US and NATO troops but accuse the US of breaking its promise not to carry out preemptive attacks. The US denies the allegations and says it has responded to Taliban attacks against Afghan security forces.Associated Press
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops and turn the page on its longest ever war.
A US military spokesman called on the Taliban to stop attacking Afghan security forces and said American troops would continue to come to their aid in accordance with the agreement. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington "not to waste" the opportunity offered by the deal to end America's longest war in a message released ahead of next week's Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Ghani said the message of the five-day gathering was clear: “Afghans want peace” and offered a ceasefire, though he stressed it would not be unilateral. In the statement on Friday, the Taliban rejected a ceasefire, saying attacks will continue during Ramadan but said “fighters are very careful of civilians during any operation.”
During their maiden visit to the library, the children presented a painting of the new building. It was created by 30 children from Senses alongside artist Snehita Gehlot and took 4 days to complete.
PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, while sitting beside the "spy," told reporters that the man was sent to install a specific device to record the communication at the residence.
Sheikh Humaid thanked the university’s board and teaching, administrative and technical staff, as well as its other employees, and congratulated the graduates on their distinguished achievement.