International Day of Living Together in Peace
16 May is the International Day of Living Together in Peace. However, parties to the war are in Afghanistan are undertaking brutal campaigns of violence to maintain leverage which highlights the seesaw effect of the peace talks. Six rounds of direct talks between the officials from the United States and Taliban representatives have been held since October last year in Qatar’s capital Doha in a bid to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. After the latest round of negotiations with the Taliban ended on Thursday, May 9th, the US envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad announced that “faster progress” was needed as “the conflict rages” and “innocent people die”. However, peace has never been in sight in Afghanistan since the conflict began. Fears exist that the talks might collapse because of no will for concession on all sides of the conflict.
Pentagon seeks to use funds to transport, lodge Taliban members in search of ceasefires
The Pentagon said on Thursday that it had asked Congress for the authority to help fund lodging and transportation for Taliban members who were interested in negotiating local ceasefires with the Afghan government, as Washington seeks an end to the more than 17-year-old war. “In cases where lodging and transportation would be required to facilitate the participation of all required parties to negotiate a local peace deal, the funds could be used for the purpose,” Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich said. She said the Pentagon was seeking “to lay the groundwork in anticipation of opportunities to facilitate talks with the Afghan government to find a way to end the war.” She said until now no funds had been used and the Pentagon did not provide further details of possible funding. A bill passed this week by the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense barred the U.S. government from using money to pay for the expenses of Taliban members taking part in the peace talks with the United States, unless the talks included members of the Afghan government or did not restrict the participation of women. The bill has not yet been passed by the full House Appropriations Committee and it is unclear whether lawmaker’s would approve the Pentagon’s request. Rebarich said that the Defense Department was not reimbursing local insurgent groups taking part in the talks. “The United States also supports local peace initiatives between the Afghan government and insurgent groups looking to cease hostilities against the Afghan Government and coalition forces,” she said. Rebarich added that the request for this authority was made by the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan following the June 2018 ceasefire. (Reuters).
Other News Headlines on May 16
The US has stressed the need for the Afghan-led and The Afghan-owned peace process. EU officials in Kabul have said that they support transparent and fair presidential elections in Afghanistan.
A number of electoral watchdogs have said that the Independent Election Commission is not ready to begin the process of registering voters for presidential elections as per schedule.
The British Department for International Development has described economic developments in Afghanistan as fair. It has said that despite challenges, Afghanistan has had rapid progress in the economic field.