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Another round of impeded back-door talks between the Taliban and the US expected

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News Analysis |

The United States of America after obstinately demanding for a direct Afghan-to-Afghan talk between the Taliban and Ghani government decided to pursue back-channel communication directly with the Taliban, yet again. The covert contacts between the two fighting forces of Afghanistan are not at all a unique development as the news of such connection being made had started to surface way back in 2012.

However, after the Eid ceasefire of 2018, the U.S sensed as substantial drift in the attitude of Afghan Taliban and initiated a contact through a state department official Alice Wells in July. Taliban already have a political office in Qatar, where ex-Taliban officials are the point of contact between the U.S and their fighting comrades in Afghanistan.

Even without the influence of Al Qaeda over the way Afghan Taliban fought against the foreign forces, their ultimate goals remain the same; exfiltration of foreign troops and control over the Afghan mainland.

The negotiation process is still in its embryonic phase as right now the effort is being made to build the consensus on the agenda and participants of the formal dialogue process, whenever it begins. Initially, there is a chance of prisoner swap between both sides as a trust-building measure which the U.S wants to lead to a two-month-long ceasefire, ensuring that the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan are held in peace.

Read more: Taliban tell Trump to get out of Afghanistan

The U.S state department has neither confirmed nor denied the contact, however, the Taliban officials in Qatar have confirmed the reports on the condition of anonymity. The sort of dialogue which the United States expect is going to take an ample amount of time. Taliban are adamant for a direct dialogue with the U.S government terming the Ghani administration as a non-entity which has no stake whatsoever in Afghanistan and over its people.

Taliban have carried out the most daunting assaults recently on the government troops one of which includes the bloody battle of Ghazni. The aerial and ground support of foreign troops was called in to prevent the city from going into the hands of Taliban. The snowballing footprint gives the Taliban an increasing leverage in the dialogue process and the writ of the government is depleting. In a statement posted on its official website, the Taliban last month took the unusual step of withdrawing security promises to the International Committee of the Red Cross, saying the ICRC had failed to help prisoners in Afghanistan’s Pul-e-Charkhi jail who were on a hunger strike to protest prison conditions.

Taliban already have a political office in Qatar, where ex-Taliban officials are the point of contact between the U.S and their fighting comrades in Afghanistan.

The Taliban statement was unusual in that it was a rare time that the insurgent group threatened punitive action for alleged behavior that was not Taliban-specific, but rather a general condemnation for a job it said was being poorly done. The particular event serves as a good example of how the Taliban are broadening the scales and objectives just to look mammoth when it will come to the negotiation table. There has been a significant change in the attitude of the Afghan Taliban after the death of Osama bin Laden.

Read more: Global War on Terror: Al-Qaeda or extension of geopolitics?

The successive operation of Pakistan Army against the insurgents in the tribal areas have led to a decline in the no. of warriors which Afghan insurgents had at their disposal. The weakness in the structure of the organization has led to an almost nonexistence stature of AQ, helping the Taliban to look for options other than fighting after going through a 17-yearlong war. While it may be termed as the success of the U.S afghan mission, the actual outcome which it wants to achieve is still far from sight.

Even without the influence of Al Qaeda over the way Afghan Taliban fought against the foreign forces, their ultimate goals remain the same; exfiltration of foreign troops and control over the Afghan mainland. The success of the dialogue depends on the rational analysis of demands from both sides. If none of them is ready to concede on any term, then there will still be the deadlock which has been existent since the inception of this idea, in 2012, of talking the way out of the war after the U.S’s most wanted threat Osama Bin Laden was neutralized.

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