President Donald Trump’s intent to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, reiterated in his State of the Union address, has thrown the already fraught situation in a state of flux.
Saddled with a tough brief from his boss, US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad has met the Taliban a number of times in recent months. His wish list includes a ceasefire, paving the way for withdrawal of US forces with the exception of some counter-terrorism presence, a pledge by the Taliban not to permit use of the Afghan soil by international terrorists and an intra-Afghan dialogue involving the Taliban and the Afghanistan government to settle the details of power sharing and a future political set up.
After Khalilzad’s meeting with the Taliban in Abu Dhabi in December last year, along with the representatives of Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia, they dodged him for a month, accusing him of trying to expand the agenda of talks beyond withdrawal of foreign forces, which seems to be their primary focus. Read More