U.S. Envoy Departs for Travel in Qatar, Islamabad, Kabul

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in an attempt to have the “Afghan parties” agreed on the “practical next steps” for a start to intra-Afghan talks departed on June 5 for travel to Doha, Islamabad and Kabul, a statement by the U.S. State Department read.

Khairulbanat Sadat
6 Jun 2020
U.S. Envoy Departs for Travel in Qatar, Islamabad, Kabul
US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. (Photo by: Social Media)

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad departed on June 05 for travel to Doha, and will leave there for Islamabad and Kabul, the statement said, adding that his main focus will be having the Afghans agreed on the “practical next steps” for a “smooth” start to the intra-Afghan peace talks.

In his last stop, Amb. Khalilzad will “review” an implementation of the February’s agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban as well as a joint declaration of the United States and the Afghan government, the statement further read, adding that he will specifically review the implementation of reduction in violence and prisoner releases.

The state ministry for peace affairs, meanwhile, reaffirmed the Afghan negotiating team’s readiness for the direct talks with the Taliban.

The Afghan government has taken practical steps to build confidence for the start of the long-awaited intra-Afghan peace negotiations, said Najia Anwari, a spokeswoman for the Afghan peace state ministry.

According to her, the Afghan government was now trying to find a good place to host the talks.

Political affairs experts, however, look at the issue from different angles.

A number of Afghan political analysts see Khalilzad’s recent trip to Doha and the release of prisoners as a step towards building confidence between the Afghan parties.

Mosa Farewar, an Afghan university lecturer, believes Mr. Khalilzad’s visit to Doha and likewise in Islamabad and Kabul is a step to create mutual understanding between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement.

A score of analysts, on the other hand, say all of the U.S. envoy’s trips have been dramatic, and this, would also not have any achievement for the Afghan people.

Omid Oriakhail, a political affairs expert, says despite the Afghan government has shown flexibility and thus released a significant number of the armed group’s prisoners, yet the group still continues violence against Afghan people and kills dozens everyday.

So far, nearly 3,000 Taliban prisoners have been released by the Afghan government, according to the government officials, but the Taliban said a total of 2,284 of their prisoners have been released as of today.

The insurgent group, likewise, has released a number of government prisoners.

As a confidence-building measure, the Afghan government and the armed group must work with the coordination and approval of all relevant sides to move forward the process of prisoner swap which was a main part of the agreement reached between the United States and the insurgents.

The agreement calls for the release of up to 5,000 jailed Taliban prisoners who were set to be released in exchange for up to 1,000 Afghan government captives by March 10, but the process was delayed due to several reasons.

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