The current spiral of violence in Afghanistan unleashed by the Taliban and the United States is, by all accounts, for gaining the upper hand when a peace deal is concluded. Therefore, the killings may be taken to hint at the US and Taliban being close to a peace agreement - enforcing a ceasefire, US troop withdrawal and a new (Taliban) government - before the national election scheduled to be held in September. Such a view is reinforced by recent developments including the two-day meeting in Doha on July 7-8 followed by the four-country conference in China. The four countries that constitute the core group to drive forward the Afghan peace process are the US, Russia, China and Pakistan.
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad followed up the proposals discussed in Doha with the core group at its meeting in China. The seventh round of talks led by Khalilzad in Doha is the first where the representatives of the Taliban, as well as official Afghanistan - 60 of them -, met for the first time across a conference table. Hitherto, the Afghan government had shunned the violent Taliban; and, the latter, for its part, scorned the government as a puppet regime of the Americans. The hostile line dividing the two was overcome by all representatives attending the Doha talks in their individual capacity.
This helped Khalilzad take forward decisively his four-point agenda of a ceasefire, intra-Afghan dialogue, procedure for withdrawal and democracy and respect for human rights from Doha to Beijing. The result, endorsed by the four-country core group, is a basic roadmap for Afghanistan’s future based on democracy and human rights (with emphasis on women’s rights). This indicates a softening of the Taliban’s hitherto tough line.
The outcome of the Doha and China meetings show that India, which has been kept out of the core group, would be relegated to a lesser role despite the $3 billion it has invested in Afghanistan for development purposes.
(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)