World

DOHA – Dozens of influential Afghans including arch foes met the Taliban in Qatar’s capital, Doha on Sunday to discuss a possible ceasefire and the future of women and minorities after 18 years of conflict in the country.

The talks follow a week of direct engagement between the US and the Taliban with both sides eyeing a resolution to the conflict that has raged on for years; the direct US-Taliban talks are set to resume on Tuesday.

Around 70 delegates apart from hosts from Qatar and Germany filled the hall of a luxurious hotel for brainstorming on the road map to peace; Taliban negotiator Abbas Stanikzai is also among the attendees.

The Qatar foreign ministry special envoy on counter-terrorism Mutlaq al-Qahtani said they were so happy to see all Afghan brothers and sisters meeting in Doha.

“We want a roadmap for the future of Afghanistan,” he told reporters after the hosts left the Afghan parties with mediators to start discussions.

One of the delegates, Asila Wardak, who happens to be a member of the High Peace Council established by former president Hamid Karzai to engage with Taliban elements, said everybody is stressing a cease fire.

Wardak added that Taliban negotiator Stanikzai spoke about the group’s position on women’s role, economic development and the role of minorities and cited him as saying, they “will allow women to work, to go to school and study — based on Afghan culture and Islamic values”.

Moreover, Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman in Qatar, said they were happy with progress and had not faced any obstacles yet.

The United States is not participating directly in the two-day summit though the moot is carrying the impression of the negotiations US had with the Talibs.

On the other hand, the Taliban, who have refused to negotiate with the government of President Ashraf Ghani, have stressed that those attending are only doing so in a “personal capacity”.

This comes on top of Ghani’s administration’s exclusion from from the direct US-Taliban talks.

The summit comes weeks ahead of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Washington wherein he would meet US President Donald Trump to discuss the Afghan peace process.

Pakistan had recently hosted Afghan leaders for ‘Lahore Process’ summit and reiterated its support for peace in the war-battered country.