KABUL – The Afghan government unveiled on Tuesday a new seven-point plan for peace in the war-torn country that involves talks with the Taliban with a ceasefire rider.
For any talks to take place with the Taliban, the government will ask the militant group to announce a ceasefire to prove that its leadership was in control of their commanders and fighters, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib told reporters in Kabul.
“In the past, we did not have a condition (…) but this time (...) our suggestion is about a one-month ceasefire (before) sitting for the negotiations,” Mohib said, unveiling the plan that builds upon the peace efforts of the past five years to end the 18-year-long bloodshed in the country.
He said while the Taliban negotiators were talking with US officials, some of their commanders switched over to the Islamic State militant group which cast doubt about the group’s control over their fighters.
The plan is drafted in three parts: Negotiations, regional and global consensus, and good governance.
It needs to be approved by a gathering of Afghan elites and influential figures, including members of the parliament.
The plan seeks negotiations with the international community, particularly with the United States and NATO countries, before the government begins talks with the Taliban.
Mohib said the proposed talks with global partners were needed to “have a clarification (on) how (they) want to continue their partnership with Afghanistan.”
“We believe they want to maintain their partnership, but we need to discuss the kind of the partnership (they want),” the president’s aide said.
The Afghan government, he said, also needed to talk to Pakistan and have a “guarantee” from Islamabad that they won’t support and create new militant groups after any peace deal is reached with the Taliban.
“Daesh (the Islamic State) may be the successor of the Taliban. So for us, peace means the end of the war.”
Mohib said the new plan was shared with the US, some European nations and other countries for consultations.
He said the feedback from the US “was not negative” and the “EU welcomed and they think it is a good plan.”
The government’s new plan comes after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the peace talks with the Taliban in September after multiple rounds of negotiations between the two sides in Doha.
The US negotiators led by Khalilzad and the Taliban had reached a draft agreement that would have secured the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in return for security guarantees from the Islamist outfit.
However, Trump cited the surge in Taliban attacks for canceling the peace talks, just after an attack in Kabul killed 11 people, including a US soldier.
Separately, inter-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban and members of Afghanistan’s civil society were also planned for Oct. 28-29 in Beijing in an attempt to relaunch the Afghan peace process.
But China delayed the talks by a few days without giving any reason.