Kabul has been witnessing a surge in violence since US President Joe Biden’s decision to delay the withdrawal of American troops.
Pakistani officials are in Qatar for a meeting with Afghan and Taliban delegations to push the ongoing peace process, Pakistan’s The Daily Times reported on Thursday.
One delegation already arrived to the Qatari capital on Wednesday and another, led by Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq, is expected to travel to Doha on Thursday.
The officials are said to hold meetings with the two factions in an attempt to convince all sides to show more flexibility in negotiations. The report said Pakistan is seeking to push the Taliban into joining the Istanbul conference, which was postponed due to the group’s refusal to attend.
“Pakistan cannot force the Taliban but will try to convince them to make progress in negotiations,” the source told The Daily Times.
However, the Taliban has refused to attend any peace conference that comes before the US completely withdraws its forces from Afghanistan, as per the 2020 February agreement signed in Doha last year.
The deal initially set May 1st as the deadline for the troop withdrawal.
“In view of recent developments, and after extensive consultations with the parties, it has been agreed to postpone the conference to a later date when conditions for making meaningful progress would be more favourable,” said Qatar, Turkey and the UN in a joint statement to announce the postponement.
“Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations will resolutely continue their earnest efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, the militant group’s attacks in Afghanistan have continued to increase in recent weeks since US President Joe Biden confirmed he would withdraw all remaining American troops from Afghanistan by September 11 instead of the initial deadline.
“The United States and the Taliban agreed that the withdrawal of foreign forces will take place at the end of April. This was something universally agreed upon,” Taliban Spokesman Mohammad Naeem told Al Araby TV earlier this month, following the White House announcement.
Naeem added that the Taliban will continue to defend its people and their freedom as it has done for 20 years, stressing that “the responsibility rests with the violating party”.
The US-backed conference in Istanbul initially aimed to push the negotiating parties to reach a set of shared, foundational principles that reflect an agreed vision for a future Afghanistan, a roadmap to a future political settlement and an end to the decades long conflict.
The conference was also hoped to fast-track the Afghan peace process, which has been hosted by Qatar since 2019.