Talks aimed at kickstarting negotiations for a final peace settlement in Afghanistan have begun in Pakistan. Monday’s meeting – will also include the governments of the US and China – could revive a process that collapsed last summer after Afghanistan announced that Mullah Mohammad Omar, founder and leader of the Taliban, had died in a Pakistani hospital more than two years ago.
The announcement led the Taliban to pull out of the talks after just one meeting hosted by Islamabad.
Infighting within the Taliban: Ever since the appointment of new leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, there have been divisions, and it is unclear who would represent the group if talks went forward. The rise of ISIL in eastern Afghanistan: The armed group has been fighting the Taliban.
Lack of trust and confidence between Pakistan and Afghanistan: There is hope that with the involvement of the US and China, this could be mended. Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman for Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, said that Pakistan would present a list of Taliban members who are and are not willing to participate in talks with Kabul on ending the 15-year war.
The Taliban has stepped up attacks since the United States and NATO formally ended their combat mission in Afghanistan a year ago, and the fighters are battling local Afghan security forces on several fronts. The group is expected to keep up the fight even if peace talks get off the ground in order to secure territory and improve their leverage in the negotiations.