On Saturday, Afghan lawmakers met with Taliban insurgents in Qatar, with all sides calling for peace despite the fact that combat has escalated and displaced thousands of civilians.
As US-led international forces retreat and the Taliban begin offensives around Afghanistan, seizing districts and border crossings while surrounding provincial capitals, the conflict has taken a turn for the worst.
Negotiators have been meeting in Doha since September but have yet to make significant headway, although time is running out before the full withdrawal of Western forces on September 11.
“Let’s … take important steps to continue the peace process, to prevent the killing of the people,” Abdullah Abdullah, head of the government’s High Council for National Reconciliation, said at the start of new high-level talks intended to last two days.
“Because we cannot pay the price for this in blood, and we cannot escape responsibility for it,” Abdullah said.
The Taliban’s deputy leader and negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, expressed disappointment with the lack of progress. “But there should still be hope, and the Taliban will make efforts for talks to have a positive result,” he said.
According to local officials, over 12,000 families in northern Takhar province have been forced to abandon their homes as combat continues.
With little supplies, many people congregated at a school in the provincial capital. “We were not helped or even given a carpet. Not even a dog can live here,” Mohammad Amin, one of those who had fled, told Reuters.
Heavy combat has erupted in southern Kandahar province, and the Taliban took Spin Boldak, a border crossing with Pakistan, earlier this week; however, the Afghan government stated on Friday that it had restored control of the crossing.