Afghan Activists Meet Taliban In Doha

At least 20 activists, including three women, who live abroad, met with the Taliban members in Doha on Saturday, April 20, after a sudden cancellation of the much-awaited Qatar meeting over disagreements on the 250-member delegation, Taliban members and those familiar with the meeting confirmed.

The meeting continued for six hours and the result, or at least the vibe, was positive as some attendees of the meeting put it.

Taliban has confirmed the meeting, saying the suggestions made by the activists will be taken into consideration in the peace talks.

“We are from the limited figures who are not political. We are not political and our goal from attending the conference was taking part and sharing our thoughts with the Taliban members and the Afghan government,” said Khatol Mohmand, an Afghan activist.

“We came here (in Doha) to raise our voice and say that our goal is peace and meanwhile we wanted to sit together and share our demands,” said Sara Alokozai, an Afghan activist.

A Kabul-based political commentator Faiz Mohammad Zaland, who is familiar with the meeting, said the meeting was unofficial.

“It was held only for public awareness between the Taliban and the guests. It was an intra-Afghan meeting,” he added.

This comes as Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who addressed the Council of Ministers meeting on Monday, said the Qatar conference was “interrupted” due to “mismanagement” and with that, an opportunity for talks was lost.

The meeting was canceled over the disagreement of Qatari government with the 250-member list proposed by the Afghan government as the Presidential Palace mentioned in a statement on April 16.

The meeting was scheduled for April 20.

Abdullah said that the Afghan people and the government are ready to use any opportunity for peace.

“Unfortunately, an opportunity which was created for dialogue in Qatar was interrupted due to mismanagement,” Abdullah said.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on April 20 with President Ashraf Ghani and condemned the Taliban’s recent announcement of a spring offensive and stressed the United States’ solidarity with the Afghan people’s pursuit of a comprehensive peace agreement that would end the suffering and destruction, the US Department of State says in a statement.

The Taliban announced their annual spring offensive on April 12, which comes as the Afghan and US politicians try to negotiate for a peace settlement with the militant group.

Pompeo also expressed the United States’ disappointment that the intra-Afghan dialogue, planned for Doha, Qatar, had been postponed, the statement said.

The statement said that the Secretary encouraged all sides to seize the moment and reach an understanding on participants, so that an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue can be convened in Doha as soon as possible.

Haji Din Mohammad, member of the Reconciliation Leadership Council – which has been created by the Afghan government for consultations on peace – said that both sides, the Afghan government, and the Taliban, are blamed for the delay in the Doha meeting.

“One problem was that the event did not have the capacity of 269 delegates who were about to travel to Qatar. On the other hand, Qatar sent a list in which it removed all pro-Afghan government figures from it. There is a need for the presence of delegates of both sides (Afghan government and Taliban) when it comes to dialogue about peace,” Mohammad explained.

A former Taliban member and head of Afghanistan Salvation Council, Sayed Akbar Agha, at a gathering in Kabul on Monday blamed the Afghan government for the cancellation of the Qatar meeting.

“Taliban says that they will not talk to it (the Afghan government) as a government, but you (the Afghan government) insist that the government of Afghanistan will lead the (Qatar) meeting,” he said.

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