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Afghanistan war: 18 years later, no end in sight; US-Taliban talks amid more attacks

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 08, 2019, 06.05 PM (IST) Written By: Anas Mallick

An Afghan delegation is in Qatar for peace talks with Taliban leaders, with the hopes of ending the 18-year-long conflict in Afghanistan.

The United States has now realised that talking to the Afghan Taliban is the only solution. The same Taliban against whom they have been engaged in a battle for over 18 years.

The war which has left thousands dead and scores injured has been the common suffering for the people of Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban as per reports, control 55% of the Afghan territory.

The United States in a bid for a negotiated settlement has been engaging in rounds of dialogue since September 2018 with the Taliban. The talks that have been facilitated by Pakistan and Qatar are happening at the Taliban’s political office in Doha seems to have had significant headway. 

Although in the same talks, the Taliban are adamant that they would not be talking to the Afghan government sighting reasons that they are an illegitimate and imposed regime.

As the US sat down in Doha for the seventh round of talks from June 29, 2019, the Taliban despite the ongoing talks did not stop with their offence.

Two days into the talks at Doha, on July 1 the Taliban struck in the heart of Kabul as what they call, the target was the ministry of Defence, a huge blast followed by 5 gunmen storming into the building. The intensity of the blast so huge, that its shockwaves were felt in about 6 kilometres radius. 

The school next to the ministry of defence suffered greater damage, mostly school children were injured. Blood soaked pictures of school children made rounds on social media, forty-five people were killed, one hundred and sixteen wounded. The Taliban claimed it, the US condemned it – All this while the two continued to talk in Doha on Afghan peace.

But that was not the end, a week later the Taliban struck again. On July 7 2019, this time in the province of Ghazni. The Taliban claim they targeted an NDS facility, for yet another time another school adjacent suffered damage. Fourteen people were killed, this included 6 civilians. A senior Taliban official while speaking to WION said that “they try their level best to strike at persistence however these facilities have been tactically made among general public places. We try to keep the civilian death toll as minimal as it could be”.

As the two major stakeholders of Afghanistan continue to engage in a negotiated settlement, the people of Afghanistan continue to suffer. The Taliban refuse to bow down or give up their spring offensive resulting in mass number of civilian casualties, something that the Taliban denied. What needs to be seen is that the fresh round of talks in Doha, would that be fruitful in ending the sufferings of Afghans or would they continue.