Afghan Talks Continue, With Focus on a Ceasefire

Abdullah offers more prisoner releases for a truce

The Doha peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government moved into their second day Monday, with a growing focus on the need for a ceasefire, and with Afghan chief negotiator Abdullah Abdullah suggesting that the government was willing to offer more prisoners for a proper truce.

A ceasefire has been a top priority for the Afghan government, as they’ve been losing ground to the Taliban for some time. Indeed, recent reports suggest that the Taliban could contest control over the major city of Kunduz once again after recent gains. Losing the city would be a big blow, especially during the intra-Afghan talks.

The Taliban are likely open to a ceasefire if they get more prisoners, though it remains to be seen if President Ghani is. He was reticent for releasing prisoners before, and now it’s the idea of Abdullah Abdullah, his political rival.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry issued a series of tweets during the talks, praising nations seen as supporting them. India and Turkey were both singled out as backing a “democratic Afghanistan.” Pakistan’s former Defense Minister Mohammad Asif made his own tweet which some are interpreting as “pro-Taliban.”

Asif tweeted pictures of Pompeo and Taliban leader Mullah Barader with text saying “You guys have power and we have God.” Regular critics of Pakistan were quick to declare this “evidence” that Pakistan is in league with the Taliban, and urged Afghanistan to take the matter to the UN. Since Asif isn’t in a government position anymore, that seems unlikely.

Pakistan and India both have geopolitical interests in Afghanistan as it relates to being used if they fight a direct war. As India was closely backing the Afghan government throughout the US occupation, Pakistan hedged its bets, with military intelligence keeping close contacts with the Taliban. This led some to blame Pakistan for the war going so poorly.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.