Talk to Al Jazeera

What will it take to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan?

Khairullah Khairkhwa, from the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, discusses efforts to reach political reconciliation.

On December 24, 1979, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan.

Leaders of the Soviet Union said they had been invited by Afghanistan’s communist leader Babrak Karmal. But the invasion set Afghanistan on a path of decades of conflict – from the Soviet-Afghan War to Moscow’s complete withdrawal in the late 1980s, and the eventual collapse of the communist government.

Civil war followed, eventually leading to the Taliban’s rise to power.

Once backed by the United States’s CIA, the Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan until 2001, when the US-led coalition invaded after the 9/11 attacks, and the group’s leadership fled Kabul.

After that, general elections were held in 2004, then 2005, 2009, then 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Afghan politicians squabbled for power and struggled to control large swathes of their own territory. But the Taliban did not recognise the authority of any of the elected governments.

Nearly 20 years later, US forces signed an agreement to withdraw from Afghanistan – on condition that the Taliban will not harbour hardline groups or attack the US and its allies.

The agreement came after nearly seven years of efforts to facilitate political reconciliation between the Taliban, the Afghan government, the US, and other countries after Qatar agreed to open an office for the Taliban where Afghan leaders and western governments could negotiate face-to-face.

But as attacks continue, efforts to arrange intra-Afghan talks have been delayed yet again.

So, what will it take to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan?

We find out as Khairullah Khairkhwa, a member of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, talks to Al Jazeera.