DOHA, Qatar – The Contact Groups of both the Afghan government and the Taliban delegations have gone through a series of intensive meetings to finalize a procedural rule intended to guide the formal talks, but failed to make a solid progress in 16 days.
While the Taliban insist to recognize US-Taliban agreement as a “mother deal” and Hanafi Fiqh as the sole religious reference for the talks, the Republic team suggested otherwise. But the Taliban disagreed to the alternatives.
“We entered the talks based on the agreement that was signed with the Americans—we are sitting with you (republic team) based on that agreement, otherwise, what is the need for the meeting?” said Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, a member of Taliban’s negotiating team, as TOLOnews quoted.
When questioned about the inclusion of Hanafi and Jaffari Figh jurisprudence, Khairkhwa said Taliban respect the rights of all citizens of Afghanistan, but the rights of the Shias of Afghanistan will be discussed during the talks about the Constitution of Afghanistan, according to the report.
Talks between the contact groups have been halted for four days now, and yet there is no confirmed information about when the two sides will resume talks on the procedural rules.
Apparent Challenges that Freeze the Talks
Taliban seek two demands: first, recognize Hanafi Fiqh as the sole religious reference for the talks; and second, the US-Taliban agreement as a “mother deal” for Afghan peace negotiations.
Afghan team proposed alternatives, saying if a religious issue arises it can be solved based on Hanafi Figh by default, however, the Shia Personal Status Law must be respected, giving the choice – based on religious jurisprudence – to other minority groups as well.
While for the second demand, the republic team recommended four options:
First: The tenets of the US-Taliban agreement could be accepted as underlying the talks, however, the tenets of the joint declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and the US should also be accepted as applicable, TOLOnews wrote.
Second: Neither the US-Taliban agreement nor the declarations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the US and NATO will be recognized as having any authority, and the negotiations will move forward based on the decisions of the consultative Loya Jirga and Jirga’s declarations.
Third: Both sides start talks “based on the national interest of Afghanistan.” And fourth option: The Quran and Hadith are the main authority for the talks, replacing all others.
On September 12, the Afghan and Taliban negotiating teams – including international allies from the United States, Europe and Asia – attended a “historic” gathering in Qatari capital Doha, marking an opening ceremony of the Intra-Afghan talks.
Since then, both the Afghan representative and Taliban team struggle to finalize an agenda that could open doors for the first round of intra-Afghan talks, determining peace and stability in Afghanistan.