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Afghanistan peace talks opened in Qatar to bring decades of war to an end



The withdrawal of troops began with the Taliban’s promise to negotiate with the Afghan government and not allow terrorist groups to use Afghan territory as a haven and arena for international attacks. But in the months since then, some international observers have questioned the Taliban’s commitment to this vow to abandon its allies in al-Qaeda and other such groups.

The government’s 20-strong team consists of just three women – not five as previously assumed – and underscores how Afghan women have struggled for equality since the Taliban’s expulsion, despite various promises that have often turned out to be hollow.

Their careers reflect the highly competitive achievements women have made in the patriarchal culture of Afghanistan – achievements they must now convince the Taliban to accept in a future system. One delegate, Habiba Sarabi, was the first female governor of an Afghan province. Another, Fawzia Koofi, a single mother, fought her way to become deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament. The third, Sharifa Zurmati, was a journalist before moving to politics and entering parliament.

The Taliban team includes some of the delegates who negotiated the deal with the United States. But they have brought in a new negotiator: Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Haqqani, an influential religious scholar who has headed the Taliban’s network of Islamic courts in recent years.

The guests came to the opening ceremony in Doha on Friday, September 11th and 19th, one day after the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States that led to the invasion of Afghanistan. This is a stark reminder that most Americans hope for a safe and secure situation. A stable Afghan democracy remains unfulfilled and, perhaps, it may soon become untenable.

Still, Khalilzad, who was an adviser to the American government during the Cold War, when the United States funded insurgents to drive Soviet troops out of Afghanistan, said there was still a way for the country to strike a balance.

“The Afghan tragedy was unable to agree on a formula and then stick to it,” said Khalilzad. “After the Soviet withdrawal there was a great victory, the Afghans had this great victory. The rest of the world benefited greatly from this: we became the only superpower, Eastern Europe was liberated, Central Asia was liberated. But Afghanistan continued this disintegration. The Afghans – they won, but they lost.


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