While Zalmay Khalilzad admits, “meetings in Doha were more productive than they had been in the past”, Taliban, on the other hand, claim that the US has agreed to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan within 18 months of the agreement being signed. However, each side will verify the claims of each other shortly. Therefore, its too early to argue about the merits, demerits and the outcome of the six days of talks between the US and Taliban. The fact that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is taking over the negotiations with the US is a big step forward. It is hoped that Mr Baradar would exert his influence within Taliban factions for making progress in the peace talks.

Nevertheless, the two sides are trying not to blink first in the intense rounds of negotiations. Despite American pressure on the Taliban to sign a ceasefire agreement, there are no indications that suggest that Taliban have succumbed to the US pressure on ceasefire. That Taliban are in no mood of signing a ceasefire agreement is evident from the attack on a military base southwest of Kabul last Monday killing as many as 100 Afghan security forces. Similarly, Khalilzad is adamant that Washington would not abandon the government in Kabul against Taliban’s key demand that Ghani’s rule is not legitimate. The resistance to not give in to the demands of each other creates rigidity.

That much said it is important to ponder upon a situation where talks come to a halt. Who will benefit from a stalemate in that case? The ground situation suggests that a deadlock in negotiations would help Taliban more than any other party to the conflict. Just in the first twenty-six days of the first month of 2019, the Taliban have killed more than 160 people – mostly Afghan security personnel and officials.

In a time when Trump is eager to pull out half of his troops from the war-torn country, Taliban feel that their perseverance and fierce resistance to the US and Afghan forces have compelled Trump to reduce the number of his soldiers in Afghanistan. If the US forces leave Afghan soil, the battlefront will drastically tilt in the Taliban’s favour. One thing that the US is probably overlooking in the mid of the talks is the possibility of a civil war if negotiations fail. Taliban also needs to keep this in mind. The civil war will get its toll from the ordinary people of Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan need nothing short of peace. Therefore, both sides need to show flexibility in reaching out a solution for a peaceful Afghanistan.