doha talks

Written by Alina Fayaz 7:53 pm Articles, Current Affairs, International Relations, Published Content

The Second Round of the Doha Talks Between America and the Taliban

About 40% of Afghanistan’s GDP and 75% of its public expenditure depends upon foreign aid. Since the Taliban takeover, the foreign assistance to the state has taken a plunge and the US government has seized over $9.5 billion worth of Afghan assets, worsening the humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan. Given the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the US and the Taliban have, once again, decided to cooperate and pursue a second round of talks in Doha. Although the Taliban regime has not been recognized by the US, the former is hopeful that the two-day talks will start a “new chapter” in their political relations.
About the Author(s)
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Ms. Alina Fayaz is currently pursuing a Bachelor's in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad.

Introduction

As America and the Taliban prepare for a round of talks in Doha, the Taliban urged the United States to take some “practical steps” in order to resolve their problems on November 24th. On the American side, the two-day talks will be led by Thomas West, a decision considered to be “a good step” by Suhail Shaheen, a senior Taliban official. He made it clear that Afghanistan is ready to settle the disputes with the US through dialogues and now, it depends on the US to show practicality and normalize its relations with the former.

An Afghan official, Torek Farhadi, analyzed that there is hope that both sides will solve the differences and only donors can catalyze the economic boost in Afghanistan. The loss of international assistance has worsened the ongoing humanitarian crisis and for over 20 years, the economy of Afghanistan has been stuttering.

40% of the country’s GDP consists of foreign donations and 75% of its public expenditures were funded by international finances as stated by West. For America, it is not easy to freeze the assets, however, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi will talk about the release of Afghan assets in Doha.

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Taliban’s Stance

The acting Prime Minister and the Taliban co-founder, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, on Saturday, assured that the government of Afghanistan will “not interfere” in the internal matters of any state. He further asserted that international charities should resume aid to Afghanistan. In a series of various difficult challenges faced by Akhund’s government, the draining international aid emerges as a major hurdle, with high rates of unemployment and inflation.

The first address of Hassan Akhund, broadcasted on state television, discussed some major plans regarding this week’s meeting between the United States and the Taliban. He also said that the Taliban want good economic relations with America. On the other hand, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in an open letter, called for the release of frozen Afghan assets by Washington.

The Second Round of Talks

Since the Doha agreement was first signed in February 2020, Afghanistan has gone through significant changes, and now, there’s a need for another round of dialogues between America and the Afghan Taliban who now rule Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad and Abdul Ghani Baradar signing the Doha agreement
The US representative, Zalmay Khalilzad (left), and the Taliban representative, Abdul Ghani Baradar (right), signing the Doha agreement on February 29, 2020

For the second round of talks, the Afghan foreign minister led the delegation, which included representatives from various sections such as health, education, security, finance, and the Central Bank of Afghanistan, last week for talks in Doha. The most significant aspect of these talks includes the surety that Afghanistan will not become a “launchpad for terrorism”.

For America, negotiations with the Taliban have always been a tough deal. It is high time to see what the outcome of these negotiations will be as both parties are ready to settle their issues through peaceful means, after a stretched tussle of two decades.             

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The spokesman of the US State Department, Ned Price, said that Tom West—the special representative of the US on Pakistan and Afghanistan—will have two days of talks with the Taliban officials. The two-day talks will be focused on the vital national interests of the US in Afghanistan. According to Price, the talks will also include a discussion on counter-terrorism, a secure passage for citizens of the US and Afghanistan, humanitarian assistance, and the economic situation of the country.

New Chapter for America and the Taliban

For the Taliban, the meeting is expected to open a “new chapter” of political ties between the Taliban and America. The two-day talks are expected to be held during the ongoing week and the Taliban’s official Arabic Twitter account states, “At this stage, talks will address opening a new chapter in political relations between the two countries, resolving economic issues, and the implementation of the terms in the previous Doha agreement.”

The Taliban government has not been officially recognized by the US and the state has laid out some prerequisites for the Taliban, essential for obtaining diplomatic and financial support. These requirements include equal access to education and employment opportunities, protection of minorities, women and girls’ rights, and most importantly, the installation of an inclusive government that will fight against terrorism.

Pakistan’s Stance

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has reiterated the need for an agreement with the Taliban government in the international system in order to ensure peace and stability. After the takeover by the Taliban, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has welcomed the second round of talks between the US and the Taliban that were held in Qatar.

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Asim Iftikhar, the spokesperson of MOFA, reemphasized Pakistan’s position that the world needs to engage in an agreement with the Taliban government. The interim government of the Taliban has called for international assistance that will help them fight against the humanitarian crisis caused due to the Taliban takeover in the middle of August.

Therefore, Pakistan has urged the international community not to stop Afghanistan as it fears the spillover effect of the humanitarian crisis on the 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Moreover, Prime Minister Imran Khan also announced humanitarian assistance—including food, medicines, and other assistance—worth $28 million.


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