(TOLO News): The Taliban demands recognition of the US-Taliban agreement as the ‘mother deal’ underlying the Afghan peace negotiations, and Hanafi Figh as the sole religious legal guidelines for the talks. Reports say that the republic’s team has suggested alternatives to the Taliban’s demands. The republic’s team has proposed that if a religious issue arises it can be solved based on Hanafi Figh by default, however, the Shia Personal Status Law must be respected, and the choice of religious jurisprudence should be given to other minority groups as well. Regarding the US-Taliban agreement, the republic team recommended four options: First option: The terms of the US-Taliban agreement could be accepted as underlying the talks, however, the terms of the joint declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and the US should also be accepted as applicable. Second option: Neither the US-Taliban agreement nor the declarations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the US and NATO will be recognized as having any authority, and the negotiations will move forward based on the decisions of the consultative Loya Jirga and the Jirga’s declarations. Third option: Both sides start talks “based on the national interest of Afghanistan.” Fourth option: The Quran and Hadith are the main authority for the talks, replacing all others. There are no confirmed reports about when the two sides will resume their discussions on the disputed points. “If they (Taliban) are not able to come up with a convincing agenda in the intra-Afghan meeting, then they create a gap in order to seek new views from their backers about the agenda of the talks,” said Sayed Zahir Masroor, a member of the Afghan parliament. Assadullah Saadati, the deputy head of High Council of National Reconciliation for Political Affairs, at a gathering warned that divisive statements by the negotiating parties can be perilous for the country. “All decisions should based on the current Constitution and the Jaffari Figh, we do not have any problem with it, we support it,” said Abdul Hakim Munib, the head of Hizb-e-Inqilab-e-Islami party. “I do not know about the authorities of this delegation and the delegation from the opposite side. We know that the two sides have demands and there are complexities,” said Faizullah Jalal, a university professor in Kabul. Both the Kabul and Taliban teams formed small groups called “contact groups” on the opening day of the talks on September 12. The contact groups have held five meetings so far to discuss rules and regulations as well as the agenda of the negotiations. The regulations for the talks initially had 23 articles. They were reduced to 20 after meetings were held between the contact groups, and they still may change. Meanwhile, Mohammad Mohaqiq, the head of Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami party, at a gathering in Kabul said that peace is “inevitable” in Afghanistan and that the peace negotiating team is in Doha for one purpose, which is to secure peace. He called on both sides of the talks to demonstrate flexibility during the talks.
US peace envoy admits challenges:
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking at a virtual event hosted by the US Institute of Peace (USIP) on Thursday, spoke optimistically about the peace talks but acknowledged there were challenges ahead. Asked about the current increase of violence in the country, he said: “We know that a reduction in violence is possible.” The Afghan peace negotiations that began in Doha on September 12 are a “historic opportunity” that could end four decades of conflict in the country and end America’s longest war, said Khalilzad.  At the USIP event, Khalilzad said the ongoing talks are the “heart of the Afghan peace process,” and “it’s important to be fully aware of the significance of this moment, and to recognize its historic relevance.”