On Saturday and Sunday, senior Taliban officials will meet with U.S. representatives in Doha (the capital of Qatar). Both sides have stated that issues include reining-in extremist groups as well as the evacuation of Afghans and foreign citizens from the country. The Taliban indicated that they are open to allowing evacuations.
The Associated Press was told by Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban political spokesman, that Washington would not cooperate with the Taliban to contain the growing Islamic State group in Afghanistan. IS has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks, including Friday's suicide bombing that left 46 Shiite Muslims dead and many others injured as they prayed in Kunduz's mosque.
Shaheen stated, "We can tackle Daesh independent," when Shaheen was asked if the Taliban would cooperate with the U.S. in containing the Islamic State affiliate. He used Arabic for IS.
Since its inception in eastern Afghanistan in 2014, IS has been relentlessly attacking the Shiites in the country. It is considered the most dangerous terrorist group in the world for its potential to attack American targets.
These weekend meetings are the first since U.S. forces pulled out of Afghanistan in August. It ended a 20-year-old military presence that was destroyed by the Taliban. The U.S. made it clear that the talks are not preamble to acknowledgment.
These talks follow two days of hard discussions between Pakistani officials, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Islamabad about Afghanistan. Officials from Pakistan urged the U.S. not to ignore Afghanistan's new rulers, but to release billions in international funds to prevent an economic collapse.
Pakistan sent a message to the Taliban asking them to be more inclusive and to pay attention to minority religious and ethnic groups.
Following Friday's attack on Taliban rulers, Afghanistan's Shiite clergy reacted with anger and demanded greater protection for their places of worship. IS claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber to be a Uyghur Muslim. According to the claim, the attack was on both Shiites as well as the Taliban because of their purported willingness expel Uyghurs in order to satisfy China's demands. This was the most serious attack since U.S. troops and NATO troops left Afghanistan Aug. 30.
Michael Kugelman (deputy director of Asia Program at U.S.-based Wilson Center) said Friday's attack could signal more violence. The majority of Uyghur militants are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. This group has enjoyed a safe haven along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan for many decades.
He tweeted that "If (IS) claims are true, China's concerns regarding terrorism in Afghanistan--to whom the Taliban claims to have been receptive- -will increase."
The Taliban bused Afghans fleeing the insurgents' blitz invasion in August. They were staying in tents in Kabul parks and returning to their north homes. IS threats are increasing following the Kunduz attack.
Mohammed Arsa Kharoti (Taliban official responsible for refugees) stated that there could be 1.3 million Afghans who have been displaced by past wars. He also said that the Taliban do not have the funds to arrange the return of all. According to him, the Taliban had organized the return of 1,005 families displaced to their homes.
Shokria Khanm had spent many weeks in one the tents in the park. She was waiting to board the Taliban-organized bus home to Kunduz on Saturday, and she said that she wasn't worried about the increasing IS threat in the north province.
She said, "At the very least, there are four walls," but she added that she was anxious about the future because her home had been destroyed by Taliban and Afghan government troops.
Winter is coming. There isn't enough firewood. She said that we need water and food.
According to a U.S. official, the Taliban will be held accountable for their agreement to allow Americans and foreign nationals to leave Afghanistan during the Doha negotiations. Because the official was not authorized, the official spoke under anonymity.
Biden's administration has received complaints and questions about U.S.-facilitated evacuations of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal.