Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, on Tuesday criticized the Taliban for their distance from the negotiating table, saying that their absence has stalled the talks for over three weeks.
Abdullah, who addressed a gathering introducing a media commission at the council, said the Taliban’s absence from the negotiation table has affected the hopes for peace in the country.
The second round of the peace negotiations between the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban resumed on January 6, and three meetings at the working group level were held to discuss the agenda of the talks. However, no meeting has been held between both sides for the last 23 days.
Countries involved in the peace should encourage the Taliban to return to the table of negotiations, Abdullah said.
The Taliban has been recently busy on regional trips. Their delegations have visited Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan over the last few days, seeking the regional countries’ support for the implementation of the February 2020 agreement in Doha, a document that is being reviewed by the Biden administration, as US officials put it.
Abdullah said every commission in the council will ensure participation from “all layers of society” in the peace process, reiterating that reconciliation efforts need to be inclusive.
Referring to recent remarks on an interim government as part of the peace process, Abdullah said a “transitional government or arrangement” is not the goal; instead, the goal is to enable the public to decide on their future through voting.
Abdullah added that no past experience has shown that an interim setup has resulted in peace in any country and that peace requires inclusivity.
He reiterated that even if there might be talks on an interim government, it should be discussed at the negotiations table.
The remarks come as the level of violence in the country has remained high and the Taliban has been under criticism for “keeping the violence” high as some senior US and Afghan officials put it.
The commander of the United States Central Command, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, says the level of violence in Afghanistan remains too high and that the US is reviewing the Taliban actions as well as the peace agreement to find a way forward in the near future, but he stressed that there has to be a conditions-based approach when it comes to the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
Speaking in an online conversation hosted by the Middle East Institute, McKenzie said: “The Taliban continue to resort to extreme violence and targeted killings across the country and frequent attacks on the Afghan forces. While they have mostly avoided attacks on US and coalition units, the level of violence is just simply too high and so that is an action that we look at.”