Taliban undecided on attending Doha meeting on Afghanistan

UN-hosted meeting on Afghanistan in Doha in May 2022. File Photo.

DOHA, Qatar — With the United Nations-hosted meeting on Afghanistan’s future looming on Feb. 18-19, the Taliban have yet to confirm their attendance, a spokesman said.

Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman, told Amu that discussions are ongoing, and a decision about their participation remains pending. Previously, Taliban officials voiced opposition to a UN proposal to appoint a special envoy to Afghanistan, a key topic at the Doha summit.

“The final decision about attending the Doha summit hasn’t been made. It’s still under discussion,” Mujahid said.

Sources familiar with the matter said the Taliban are hesitant about the summit, fearing it might weaken their political power. However, they emphasized that isolating the Taliban is not the meeting’s goal. The summit is expected to draw special envoys for Afghanistan from various countries and prominent Afghan figures, including women’s representatives.

At an event in Nangarhar, Abdul Kabir, the Taliban’s deputy prime minister for political affairs, said the summit aims to foster the Taliban’s global engagement. Despite their reservations, some Taliban officials expressed optimism about the meeting.

Nisar Ahmad Shirzai, a political analyst, said the summit likely would focus on forming an inclusive government, women’s rights, and reopening girls’ schools and universities. However, he warned that the Taliban might reject these issues, fueling their reluctance to participate.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, will chair the summit, convened after an independent UN assessment by special coordinator Feridun Sinirlioğlu, who also proposed reintegrating Afghanistan into the international community.