The United States and the Taliban exchanged important terms and conditions for a conclusive and meaningful dialogue- albeit in an informal manner- in Doha, Qatar before the start of the ongoing deadlock over the Taliban office opened last month in the Qatari capital.
Taliban negotiators told US representatives they would like 60 percent share in the future ‘interim set up’ in Kabul, which would be set up to convene the ‘Loya Jirga’ or ‘Grand Assembly’ to discuss the future shape of the constitution of Afghanistan and other vital matters related to government formation.
The Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban told US officials that distribution of the remaining 40 percent share must be discussed among different Afghan groups before names of members are finalised.
According to diplomatic sources privy to developments on the front of ‘Doha process’ before the closure of the Taliban office early this month, the Taliban also reiterated their demand for the release of all their prisoners in US custody in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison or in Afghan jails.
However, the sources said no formal discussions could be held due to the deadlock that occurred over the title of ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ and the ‘flag hoisted by the Taliban at their newly opened office in Doha.
Objections over the title and flag of the Taliban office came from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who according to sources, feared he could be sidelined completely if talks were held between the US and the Afghan Taliban.
An anonymous source revealed that the US demanded the Taliban free an American soldier in their custody, shun the path of violence, renounce ties with the al Qaeda and accept the Afghan constitution.
“The conditions both sides had come up with, though informal, were tough and hard but still it was important that some terms were presented by the two main parties in the Afghan conflict to one another for the start of a meaningful dialogue and also what they believe shall be the shape of future political dispensation in Afghanistan,” the source said.
Another diplomatic source, who also asked not to be named, said the current impasse between the US and Taliban was hard to break but still efforts were on and the US was trying, with the help of its NATO allies like the United Kingdom, to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations.
“British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday during his visit to Pakistan, also sought Islamabad’s help to end the stalemate in the Doha dialogue process and he (Hague) was assured that Pakistan would do whatever it could to facilitate the Afghanistan reconciliation process,” he added.