Sputnik: What's your take on the outcome of the meeting that took place in Doha?
Dr. Rifaat Hussain: The most positive outcome in my judgement is that both sides have acknowledged that that talks between the US officials and the Taliban delegation have taken place and they have not declared anything which will be subversive to the peace talks process. And as you know, the talks go back to 2015 and the Taliban has been insisting that in Abu Dhabi with the representation of the Afghan government they would like to hold talks. And both sides, as you stated in your initial statement, both sides have put a positive spin and hopefully this process gains traction. So I am quite hopeful that it will open the way for an overall peace settlement in Afghanistan. That's a goal we are a long-way off from, but I think that it's definitely possible. There are hopes of a brokered peace between the Afghan Taliban and the US and the ball is now completely in the US court.
Sputnik: Shouldn't other countries, for example Pakistan and India, be involved in this peacemaking process?
Dr. Rifaat Hussain: Well, I think that Pakistan's role is critical because it has a long-standing relationship with the Taliban leadership and some of which are still living in Pakistan. But I think that the first step is the peace process between the Afghan Taliban and the US and Pakistan can lend them a helping hand and newly-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has already expressed his desire that Pakistan would like to see peace returned to Afghanistan and that is something that is very positive. As where India's role is concerned, yes. India should be not be looking at this process and resist from efforts to derail the process. But I think Pakistan's role is going to be critical and so is going to be the role of the Iranian government and so is going to be the role of all Afghan's neighbors. But I think in that context Pakistan's role is going to be pivotal.
Sputnik: Why did the Taliban insist on Afghan officials be absent from the meeting?
Dr. Rifaat Hussain: Well, because they wanted to claim credit in terms of their followers and they wanted to present the image that their longstanding demand has been met. And also they wanted to moderate, at least temporarily, the role of the unity government because ultimately when the talks gain traction I think the unity government or Afghani government will become part of the process because there is a tripartite conflict. On the one hand you have the Afghan government on the other you have the Taliban insurgents and the third, of course, is the role of the US. So I think they have an understanding with the unity government that they will be made part of the process, but not at this stage.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Rifaat Hussain are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.