A fresh round of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban will start on Tuesday in Qatar in the backdrop of assassinations that have sowed fear and chaos across Afghanistan.
Till now, months of deliberations between yielded a little so far as both parties made a breakthrough last year after they agreed on what they have to discuss in the next rounds of peace talks.
According to AFP, the Afghan government negotiators will push for a permanent ceasefire and to protect the existing system of governance that is placed since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001 by a US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
“The talks are going to be very complicated and time-consuming,” Ghulam Farooq Majroh, a government negotiator told AFP, adding, “But we are hopeful to arrive at a result as soon as possible as people are tired of this bloody war.”
The Taliban did not offer any comment.
The first direct talks between the warring sides opened in September after months of delays, but quickly became bogged down by disputes on the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations.
The negotiations, which started after a consistent diplomatic effort from Washington, follow a landmark troop withdrawal deal signed in February by the Taliban and Washington, which saw the US pledge to pull out all foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.
The talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have been marred by an increase in violence from the start, but a new trend is a wave of high-profile targeted killings of officials, activists, and journalists.
The deputy governor for Kabul province, five journalists, and a prominent election activist have been among those assassinated in Kabul and other cities since November.
Officials blame the Taliban for the mayhem, although the jihadist Islamic State group has claimed some of the assaults.
The Taliban carried out more than 18,000 attacks across the country in 2020, Afghanistan’s spy chief Ahmad Zia Siraj told lawmakers this week.
The first nine months of last year saw 2,177 civilians killed and 3,822 wounded, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Ordinary Afghans long for better security but hold little hope for an immediate improvement despite the talks.
“We have no security at all in Kabul. For how long will we need to keep burying our loved ones?” said Jamshid Mohammad, a resident of Kabul.