Public Response to Peace Talks Marked By Renewed Hope, Persisting Questions

With talks between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders in Islamabad in motion, the Afghan public has reflected a spectrum of opinions regarding how negotiations should move forward. But, for all, there seems a renewed optimism that peace could be on the horizon.

After years of speculations and controversy, this past week, representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban officially met at the negotiation table to discuss paths to peace. The talks were held in Islamabad, and monitored by U.S. and United Nations officials. They have yielded plans for continued talks that will likely turn toward the demands and concessions of both sides.

“People’s expectations for the talks are high,” a Kabul resident named Abdul Mateen told TOLOnews. “It is hoped that this time the process will not be like the previous one and that there will be an outcome from the talks.”

However, women rights activists have expressed concerns in the wake of the first meeting between government officials and Taliban representatives. “One of the recommendations offered by the Taliban reveals that the Taliban do not endorse women’s civil liberties,” an activist named Munira said. “There are major concerns about it, that women’s achievements could be sacrificed in the talks.”

Meanwhile, there remain many unanswered questions surrounding the circumstances of the negotiations. “We do not understand whether we talk with the Taliban or Pakistan,” Baghlan resident Bashir Ahmad said on Friday. “If the talks are really happening with the Taliban, then it should be inside the country,” he added.

Further questions reflect the increasing complexity of Afghanistan’s militant challenge. “Alongside the Taliban, there are some other groups as well in Afghanistan, such as Daesh, and other groups,” Baghlan resident Abdul Saboor said. “If a reconciliation is made with Taliban, what would be the fate of other groups?” he asked.

The delegations that met two days ago have agreed to continue negotiations after the holy month of Ramadan.

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