News / Asia

    Talks on Afghan Peace Process Set for Jan. 11 in Pakistan

    FILE - Afghan security forces walk past a burning car after a group of Taliban insurgents stormed a compound used by Afghanistan's intelligence agency in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 7, 2015.
    FILE - Afghan security forces walk past a burning car after a group of Taliban insurgents stormed a compound used by Afghanistan's intelligence agency in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 7, 2015.

    Four-way talks are set to begin January 11 in Pakistan on a framework for reviving peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

    Representatives from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States are scheduled to take part in the discussions in Islamabad.

    “The four-party committee is a new initiative and a key step forward,” said Maulawi Shahzada Shahid, a spokesman for the Afghan High Peace Council, a government body tasked with talking to the Taliban.

    Pakistan hosted a first round of talks last July, but the negotiations stalled amid word that the insurgents' spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, had died two years earlier. The Taliban kept the news secret, apparently to avoid divisions in the movement over who would succeed him.

    As preparations for the new discussions take place, some observers cast doubt on prospects for any breakthrough, given divisions in the ranks of the Taliban and conditions set by the two sides.

    “Who is it that we are talking to?” asked Kabul-based political analyst Farooq Bashar, referring to several groups that operate in Afghanistan.

    “Should we talk to the Taliban, ISIS, Haqqani network, or should we talk to Hekmatyar’s group?” he said, referring to Afghan rebel leader Gilbuddin Hekmatyar, who has been designated a global terrorist by the United States and blacklisted by the United Nations. His whereabouts are not clear.

    Bashar added that the Afghan government has to come up with a clear strategy for peace and specify the relevant groups in the talks.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani acknowledged the divisions within the Taliban as a potential challenge during a news conference this past week.

    "It is obvious that there are groups of Taliban, not a unified movement," Ghani said. "The fundamental issue here is the choice: Choose peace or terrorism. There will be no tolerance for terrorism."

    Shahid of the Afghan High Peace Council told VOA that the council was willing to talk to all groups to end the war.

    Conditions from both sides

    Aside from the divisions in the ranks of the Taliban, other potential obstacles for peace include conditions set forth by the Afghan government and Taliban.  

    “The key is the will to negotiate and a genuine demonstration by both parties that compromise is possible,” Shahid said.  “Putting out conditions beforehand by either party will be counterproductive. That being said, at some point in the talks, both parties have to be willing to meet the other side halfway through.”

    Lack of a unified leadership may pose a challenge for the Taliban to compromise, because there are sects within the movement unwilling to make concessions.

    The Taliban have long insisted on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as a precondition for peace talks to succeed and have demanded changes to the Afghan constitution.

    The government in Kabul has also set conditions, including cutting off the Taliban's links with terrorist groups like al-Qaida and the Haqqani network.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Mara Burr from: Washington, DC
    January 15, 2016 2:44 PM
    The economic stabilization of Afghanistan is a key element in any discussion about peace and security. Afghanistan needs to have a fully functioning economy without interference by its neighbors. It was heartening to see Afghanistan join the World Trade Organization in December 2015 but now Afghans need to see the economic benefit. This discussion is as important as anything else on the agenda.

    by: Sadaqat
    January 03, 2016 7:51 AM
    I think the peace talk between Afghan governament and Taliban is good ,but the problem is Pakistan why Pakistan is the right hand of Terrorists and Taliban always want to be in the peace it is Afghan internal ishio to juges are fine USA and China why Pakistan ,so if pakistan then that is the indication of that , that spoksman of Taliban is not Afghani Taliban ,but Pakistan support Taliban whom are just in the favour of Pakistan who is working and will work for Pakistan according Pakistan policy for Afghanistan which is one player two games.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora