As two days of “reconciliation talks” began in Qatar on Saturday, some Afghan political analysts said it was an opportunity for the warring parties to reveal their respective stance on peace in Afghanistan.
The Gulf nation's state news agency reported Saturday that Afghan and Taliban officials would hold two days of "reconciliation" talks in Qatar.
QNA did not identify the officials taking part in the talks, which it said began Saturday, citing Foreign Ministry official Yousif Al Sada.
"The dialogue will be through open discussions about the Afghan reconciliation between all parties in Afghanistan," the agency said.
A day earlier, Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said an eight-member Taliban delegation would attend the event, but added the discussions should not be misconstrued as peace talks.
Mujahid said all participants would attend in an individual capacity and no one represented any government or party. "Since this is a research conference, therefore, every participant gives their opinion on a range of issues."
The Pugwash Council, which brings together scholars and public figures to work against armed conflicts and seek solutions to global security threats, has organised the two-day conference in Doha.
Former president Hamid Karzai, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and a number of political parties’ leaders and lawmakers had been invited to the conference.
Qazi Hakim would represent the Gulbadin Hekmatyar-led Hezb-i-Islami of Afghanistan (HIA), the second largest militant group after the Taliban. The HIA has also a political wing led by former economy minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal.
Others invitees include Qutbuddin Hilal, Syed Ishaq Gilani, Haji Roohullah, Farooq Azam, Yunas Qanuni, Faizullah Zaki, Karim Khalili, Qazi Amin Waqad, Masoom Stanikzai and several others.
Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, a political analyst, said the Doha conference was a positive step towards reviving the peace process in Afghanistan despite the event being unofficial.
Haqyar told Pajhwok Afghan News “the dialogue gives an opportunity for both the government and the Taliban to speak out their positions on the need and demand for peace and stability in Afghanistan”.
The conference, he said, had US and other Western countries’ support since the US had provided financial support to the Pugwash Council which had organised such conferences in France and Turkey in the past.
Haqyar said the most important point was that that the Taliban had openly announced, for the first time, their participation in the dialogue process and had named the participants on their behalf.
Dr. Faiz Ahmed Zaland, another political expert, said the Qatar conference was in the interest of both the government and the Taliban, but added the government’s weak stance had strengthened Taliban’s position.
He said Al Qaeda had been replaced by Daesh in the region, making the Taliban to agree for peace negotiations, Zaland said.
He said the presence of Daesh or Islamic State group could prove dangerous for both Afghan forces and Taliban militants.