Afghans voice relief after US calls off peace talks with Taliban

Afghans voice relief after US calls off peace talks with Taliban

US President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend peace talks with the Taliban was met with relief by many Afghans, who questioned the absence of other interested parties including the government.

“These talks were based on American and Taliban interests and Afghans were only the audience,” said Mohammad Ilyas, a political activist from the eastern city of Jalalabad.

“An existing elected government was marginalised and they wanted to decide the fate of whole nation. We believed that these discussions wouldn’t have a favourable outcome.”

The top US negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, had said that a deal had been “imminent” and was only awaiting Mr Trump’s approval.

But the US president announced on Saturday that he was suspending the months-long peace effort over a Taliban bombing in Kabul two days earlier that killed a US soldier and 11 other people.

US officials have suggested that the talks could resume later, bringing hopes that the pause will allow the inclusion of excluded Afghan parties.

“The lull in the peace talks will give Afghan women the opportunity to further strengthen their position and regroup so that they can take a stronger part of the negotiations between the US and the Taliban,” said Zuhra Bahman, a women’s rights activist in Kabul.

For women, reintegration of the Taliban into mainstream politics raised fears for the fundamental rights they had established in the 18 years since the militants were toppled by a US-led invasion.