It has been almost three months since the talks between the Afghan state representatives and representatives of the Taliban started, an arrangement brokered by the US, which involved transferring and even releasing several Taliban prisoners. Although the peace negotiation even occurring is good news, there has been a lack of positive updates since then. The ground rules and agenda were points of debate, which prevented the talks from moving forward. With continuing violence and attacks in Afghanistan, many believe that the Taliban are only at the table to stall, as they continue to be involved in terrorist activities. This Wednesday however, the first tangible step towards peace came through, reviving hopes of this negotiation being a process that might lead to lasting peace and stability.
The Taliban and Afghan negotiation teams in Doha have signed their first agreement; a three-page code of rules and procedures for their negotiations towards a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire. This is a cause for optimism for all stakeholders in the peace process, as a ceasefire is the only way to give Afghan civilians the security to live their lives, and after 20 years it is clear that negotiations are the only way this war can end.
A withdrawal, at least in part, of the US forces, was one of the Taliban’s demands for the negotiations to continue, and that too is in process, as several US bases shut down and 2000 troops are withdrawn, leaving behind 2500. A complete US withdrawal without not only an agreement between the state and the Taliban, but implementation by both parties, peace, and stability, would spell chaos not only for Afghanistan, but for the region, and would risk wasting 20 years of the work done by Afghans in collaboration with the US.