Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Peace Talks: Transparency Ensures Mutual Confidence

The longest round of Afghanistan peace talks yet between the U.S. and the Taliban ended in Qatar, and both sides told that progress has been made.
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted Tuesday night that “conditions for #peace have improved.” And the militant group said: “For now, both sides will deliberate over the achieved progress, share it with their respective leaderships and prepare for the upcoming meeting, the date of which shall be set by both negotiation teams.”
However, Afghan government as the representative of the Afghan people is not involved in the process and does not know the results of the peace talks. That’s why the NSA, Hamdullah Mohib, took particular aim at US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and his personal “ambitions” in Afghanistan, after the second round of talks ended in Qatar. He said, “We don´t know what´s going on.” In terms of the transparency of the talks he said, “We don´t have the kind of transparency that we should have.”
Peace talks is a critical issue that can affect the life of all Afghans and shapes the future of the country. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad shall constantly update the Afghan government about his meetings with the Taliban and then the Afghan government shall update the public regularly.
We understand the context and complexities of the talks and Usually, when you talk behind closed doors, you don’t announce what happened, but it has to be very transparent. And he shall keep the Afghan government abreast in order it keeps abreast the public always.
We also keep in the mind that, “Khalilzad also has to respect the position of the other, and cannot immediately put it out publicly, because there are requirements, and there are imperatives for these kinds of meetings.
Nevertheless, transparency of peace talks has been a tense issue, but Afghanistan and the US could manage it in the past not to create a problem, at least a problem leaking to the public. One of the issues that could help the both sides to be hopeful about the transparency was that, Khalilzad usually traveled to Kabul after the peace talks and put Kabul in the picture. However, this time Khalilzad, traveled directly to Washington to consult with others. This issue caused the anger of Kabul. According to the NSA, “The last people to find out are us.”
If the negotiators do not put the relevant bodies in the picture, this approach can create tensions between them and this has already happened in the Afghan peace talks. ‘Viceroy’Beyond Khalilzad´s possible lapse in diplomatic decorum by not briefing Kabul, Mohib lambasted US intentions, in a rare outburst. And emphasized that “We like to hear that progress is made.” Worse than this, “Our understanding is if there is a deal, it´s a bad deal.” He added.
Lack of transparency in the Afghan Peace talks can lead to lack of trust of Afghanistan to the U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the intension of both the US and her envoy. That is why Mohib said, “Knowing Ambassador Khalilzad´s own history, personal history, he has ambitions in Afghanistan,”. It also creates a negative environment and ambiguity of the future of the government, as Mohib has pointed out, “The perception in Afghanistan, people in the government think that perhaps, perhaps all this talk is to create a caretaker government of which he will then become the viceroy,”. Finally, lack of transparency in the talks can harm the partnership between the two countries as Mohib said, “He is ostracizing, and alienating a very trusted ally and partner”.
Confidence between the US and Afghan government is the only mechanism that ensures a successful peace process and transparency in the negotiations is the only tool than can maintain such a confidence. It is a positive move that Palladino told reporters that Washington maintainend its confidence in Ghani, and admitted there could be more coordination and regular contacts between the two capitals.