Exclusive: In Afghanistan, the Taliban eye their return to centre stage
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In Afghanistan, the time for dialogue has finally arrived. Historic Intra-Afghan negotiations began on September 12 in Doha, Qatar and, for the first time, representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks to try to put an end to the 19-year conflict that began after the Taliban were ousted from power by American-led NATO forces in 2001. As a condition for the negotiations, the Taliban demanded the release of 5,000 of their fighters. Our reporters met with some of them, even as much of the Afghan population fears renewed violence.
In this report, we meet with Taliban fighters in Aghanistan, who spent several years fighting Afghan and US forces before being arrested and imprisoned in government jails. Their time in prison only reinforced their devotion to the Taliban movement on both ideological and political levels. They oppose the Afghan government, which they see as a puppet in the hands of the Americans, and they reject the modern way of life, practised particularly in the country’s urban centres, which they view as contrary to the principles of Islam.
Each faction has its own aims. The relatives of the civilian victims of the war want justice. The vibrant urban youth hope to establish a modern Islamic republic, and the Taliban’s goal is to live in a country governed by Islamic Sharia Law.
These essential differences leave Afghanistan deeply divided. The peace negotiations in Doha are likely to be long and complicated, as the two ideologies will not be easily reconciled.
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