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Afghan officials 'talk nearly every day with Taliban'

Taliban and government officials "talk almost daily" on Afghanistan's future [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 August, 2017

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Documents have revealed terms the Taliban has drawn up for a future Afghanistan constitution, as officials reveal the government and militant leaders are in talks "almost daily".
Officials from Afghanistan's government and the Taliban are speaking nearly every day about the country's constitution and political future, it has been reported.

Despite seemingly stalled peace talks between the government and the militant group, officials say Afghanistan's intelligence chief speaks by telephone with militant leaders almost daily, while Afghanistan's national security adviser has conversations with the Taliban every other month, officials familiar with the efforts said.

The Associated Press has seen documents describing the conversations between the Afghan officials and the Taliban leadership in both Pakistan and the Gulf state of Qatar, where they maintain an office.

While Afghan officials said neither side was ready to agree to public peace talks, the documents revealed details of the issues discussed, including the Taliban's apparent willingness to accept Afghanistan's constitution and future elections.

Amendments

Among the Taliban's demands, according to the official, include: the education for boys and girls at all levels, but with segregation by gender; women could be employed in all fields, including defence and the judiciary, and they could serve as judges at all levels except the Supreme Court; and constitutional guarantees that a woman could not be president.

The Taliban also demanded special courts to be established to oversee thousands of cases that allege land was taken illegally by the rich and powerful in the post-Taliban era.

Many of the land owners are former warlords who are now in the government. The Taliban wants the land returned to those from whom it was taken.

Elections could be held after an interim government is established, with no one affiliated with past governments allowed to serve in the interim administration, another demand said. The Taliban said all sides could keep areas currently under their control until voting is held.

The Taliban, which captured much of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, has launched a brutal insurgency against government and coalition forces since they were overthrown in 2001.

Under the Taliban, officials imposed a repressive interpretation of Islam that denied education to girls, drove women from the workforce and established harsh punishments like public executions and flogging similar to those carried out in Saudi Arabia. The only countries to recognise the Taliban government were Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Backtracking

Last week, US President Donald Trump cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan, backtracking from his promise to rapidly end America's longest war.

But his definition of a win in Afghanistan notably did not include defeating the Taliban.

"Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan," Trump said.

In response, the Islamist group vowed it would make the country "a graveyard" for the United States and would continue its "jihad" as long as American troops remained in the country.

"As long as there is one US soldier in our land, and they continue to impose war on us, we, with a high morale will continue our jihad," Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

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