By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – The U.S. and the Taliban are inching closer to striking a landmark peace deal that aims to end the lingering war in Afghanistan, but analysts appear to be skeptical about its implementation and sustainability.
The two sides have acknowledged that significant progress has been made in Pakistan-sponsored peace talks held in Doha, Qatar last week but denied reaching an agreement on cease-fire — Washington's key condition.
The Taliban have made it clear that until the issue of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is agreed upon any progress on a cease-fire is “impossible”.
Even if a peace deal and cease-fire is reached, it is unlikely that all will be over for the Afghans reeling from a war that has entered its 18th year.
"There are still many hurdles in the way of a peace deal as the two sides have several issues to agree upon. But even if the deal is struck, there will still be huge challenges ahead for Afghans,” Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based expert on Afghan affairs told Anadolu Agency.
“The major challenge ahead is negotiations between Taliban and the Kabul government. How substantial these talks would be? Secondly, it is not only the Afghan government but the warlords who are not even in the U.S. or Afghan government’s control. It is very unlikely they [Taliban and warlords] accept each other,” Yusufzai added.
Citing the example of Abdul Rasheed Dostum, a staunch Taliban opponent, he said: “Dostum has killed over 6,000 Taliban. Now, how can the Taliban negotiate with him or others?"
Another major issue, he said, will be the future of over 300,000 Afghan security forces who have been attacked by the Taliban across Afghanistan.
He ruled out the possibility of a wide-scale civil war following the proposed pull out of the foreign forces.
Pakistan, which is believed to have enjoyed a degree of influence over the Taliban, acknowledged last December that it had arranged talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.
Amir Rana, an Islamabad-based security analyst, says the formation of a system of governance after the deal will be a key task.
"This is a new Afghanistan. It is not the 90s when one simply captured a country and enforced a rule. There is a new generation that has never seen the Taliban rule. There is a vibrant media, the civil society, and the women's rights groups,” said Rana who heads a local think tank.
Yusufzai agrees that the Taliban cannot simply capture a country and rule it like they did in the 90s, when a strict form of Shariah was in force — where public be-headings were common and women banned from public life.
“It is not only for the Afghan society but also for the Taliban to accept the new Afghanistan. Like many other things, one issue is settled that any change in system will be through ballot."
He went on to say that the Taliban are still not interested in democracy but they will have to convince their ranks to accept the ballot and share power.
Abdul Khalique Ali, a Karachi-based political and security analyst, said the Taliban do not seem to be in a hurry to strike a deal.
"Washington in principle has decided to come out of its longest war in modern history as soon as possible. Understanding this fact, they want to get the most out of it," he said.
The Taliban have spread their attacks across the country, he observed, adding that they seem to be "strong and confident".