A group of four countries trying to broker peace with the Taliban met Monday for the first time and agreed to push negotiations into Kabul. The Quadrilateral Coordination Committee — Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States — set its next meeting for Kabul in a week, saying a peace deal with the Taliban must go ahead. But will it actually? We’ll see.
At the table were Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and adviser Sartaj Aziz; Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister Khalil Hekmat Karzai; and the American and Chinese special envoys, Richard Olson and Deng Xijun. Behind the scenes is the powerful head of the Pakistani armed forces, Raheel Sharif, the architect of these new negotiations.
Everyone is favorable to the peace process except, for now, the Taliban. The first meeting between the government and the Islamist group was held in July in Pakistan, but everything collapsed after the announcement of the death of Mullah Omar and internal disputes erupted about whether to participate. Then mounting anti-Pakistan sentiment in Afghanistan led to a wave of bombings and massacres, often without claim, and it took months to mend the breach.