Stanekzai says delay no cause for concern after Ghani met with team

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani met with the Afghan negotiating team in Doha on Monday and discussed issues around the peace talks.

Ghani did not address the media after the meeting but the head of the Afghanistan Republic’s negotiating team, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, said the delay in talks should not be of too much concern as both sides are committed to getting the peace talks off the ground.

Khalid Noor, one of the negotiating team members also said that meetings have been held between both parties over the past few days in order to resolve the disputed points.

He did not venture details on the “disputed points” but it is widely believed that two issues are holding up the process – that of Hanafi jurisprudence and that the Afghan government does not recognize the US-Taliban deal as being the framework for which talks should be based on.

However, Noor stated that the Afghan republic’s team are representing all Afghans and that includes “freedom of speech and other values that we believe in, including women’s rights, [which] is valuable to us and we are here to defend them and we have made them [the Taliban] understand that today’s Afghanistan is different from Afghanistan 20 years ago.

“We will defend the rights of every single Afghan including youths, women, Ulema, media … We will start real talks as soon as we can,” he said.

Another negotiating team member to speak to Ariana News was political activist Fawzia Koofi.

As a staunch women’s rights activist, Koofi said: “The women are part of our society; therefore, their security, to safeguard their status (in the society) and their freedom is very important. We grew up with these values in the past 20 years at least we politically have grown-up, therefore, we assure you that these points are valuable to us.”

“The freedom of speech and all other freedoms that we gained and experienced in the past 20 years have been a milestone and a direct link to how the negotiation is going to succeed.

We will not easily give up on the basic principles that we gained in the past 20 years,” she said.

She went on to say the “talks are complicated as we want to resolve a four-decade conflict through dialogue and we (the Afghan and Taliban teams) are in an unequal situation.

“But the spirit of holding meetings between the two sides and reaching an agreement on basic issues is a success,” she said adding that there were however still issues that needed to be resolved so that “the foundation for the next phases could be laid.”

Ghani, who is in Qatar on an official visit, is scheduled to meet with high-ranking officials. Earlier, Nader Nadery, another member of the peace talks team said Ghani is in Qatar on an official visit and that his trip is not directly linked to the peace talks, which are underway in the city.