(KHAAMA press): DOHA, Qatar – Day 14, both the Afghan and Taliban contact groups in Doha met twice on Wednesday; yet still could not reach to an agreement on the procedural rules aim to guide the formal talks, leaving the entire nation – including international allies – with one question in mind: How much longer will it take negotiators to finally launch the first round of intra-Afghan talks?
While Afghan team argues the Taliban do not show flexibility in their position to pave the way for talks, according to sources, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said meetings will continue until both parties reach to an agreement on the procedural rules. Rules and Regulations for the talks initially had 23 articles, which were then reduced to 20 after a series of meetings between the contact groups since September 12. Changes are still expected, say sources, as shown on Taliban’s inability to compromise. Taliban seek two demands: first, recognize Hanafi Fiqh as the sole religious reference for the talks; and second, the US-Taliban agreement as a “mother deal” for Afghan peace negotiations. Afghan team proposed alternatives, saying if a religious issue arises it can be solved based on Hanafi Figh by default, however, the Shia Personal Status Law must be respected, giving the choice – based on religious jurisprudence – to other minority groups as well.  While for the second demand, the republic team recommended four options: First: The tenets of the US-Taliban agreement could be accepted as underlying the talks, however, the tenets of the joint declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and the US should also be accepted as applicable, TOLOnews wrote. Second: 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 Jirga’s declarations. Third: Both sides start talks “based on the national interest of Afghanistan.” And fourth option: The Quran and Hadith are the main authority for the talks, replacing all others.  Taliban has turned down alternatives suggested by the Afghan team, sources said. On September 12, the Afghan and Taliban negotiating teams – including international allies from the United States, Europe and Asia – attended a “historic” gathering in Qatari capital Doha, marking an opening ceremony of the Intra-Afghan talks. Since then, both the Afghan representative and Taliban team struggle to finalize an agenda that could open doors for the first round of intra-Afghan talks, determining peace and stability in Afghanistan.