Kabul, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- The negotiating team representing the government at Kabul and other sections of Afghan society left for Doha on Friday for the much-awaited intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban.
The talks will kick off on Saturday in the Qattari capital between the government and the insurgents, as well as different sections of the Afghan society.
The plane with members of the Afghan delegation, which includes 21 members of the negotiating team as well as representatives of different political wings and other sectors, departed in the afternoon from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“Afghanistan’s peace negotiations team, led by Chairman of the High Council For National Reconciliation, left Kabul for Doha,” the group’s spokesperson Faraidoon Khwazoon tweeted.
The 21-member team, which will take part in what is expected to be a long negotiating process, will be led by Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and former head of Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
Other government representatives at the talks in Doha include Deputy Minister for Peace Sadat Mansoor Naderi, and Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Chairman Ahmad Nader Nadery.
“The shared resolve and hope of the people & the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is that through direct talks with the Taliban, our nation achieves peace, moves towards progress, and strengthens democracy & lasting stability,” tweeted Nadery while leaving.
The negotiating team also comprised of independent academics such as Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, and opposition Jamiat-e Islami party member Abdul Hafiz Mansoor.
Unlike the Taliban team, the negotiating group sent by Kabul also consists of four women – former Deputy Chair of the High Peace Council and a member of the persecuted Hazara community, Habiba Sarabi; former president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, Fatema Gailani; former legislator and activist Sharifa Zormati Wardak; and the leader of Movement Of Change For Afghanistan party, Fawzia Koofi.
Koofi, during an interaction with local broadcaster Tolo at the airport, admitted that the intra-Afghan talks were expected to be “very complicated,” but that should not prevent all aspects of the Afghan war from being considered in the talks.
Safeguarding the progress concerning women’s rights since the fall of the Taliban regime – that prevented girls from going to schools and confined women to their homes – will be one of the most important points in the negotiating process.
After months of delay in the start of the intra-Afghan talks, which was scheduled to begin in March following the signing of a historic agreement between the United States and the insurgents in Doha on Feb.29, the Taliban announced Thursday that negotiations would begin in Qatar during the weekend.
This process was delayed due to the lack of agreement between the Afghan government and the insurgents concerning the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for 1,000 Afghan security forces, which was to serve as the precursor to the talks.
These talks could possibly bring an end to nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan, which began with the fall of the Taliban regime following the US invasion in 2001 in the wake of the infamous 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. EFE-EPA