Afghan peace talks


A delegation approved by the Taliban’s supreme leader visited the Pakistan this week for exploratory talks on restarting peace negotiations to end Afghanistan’s 16-year war. According to a report, it was unclear if any progress was made in the unofficial meetings with a representative of a prominent Afghan politician. Many previous attempts have failed to revive direct talks that ended nearly as soon as they started in 2015. The Islamabad talks followed another back-channel meeting over the weekend in Turkey between individuals with Taliban connections and representatives of Hizb-i-Islami, the party of a former Taliban-allied commander who last year laid down arms to join Afghan politics. A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was not aware of the Islamabad talks, while the Taliban did not respond to queries. Both sides denied participating in the Turkey talks. However, two senior Taliban officials said on condition of anonymity that supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada had approved exploratory meeting in Islamabad on restarting talks to end the war that kills thousands of Afghans each year. Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Turkey meeting had no legitimate Taliban representatives in attendance. It is being reported that the three-member Taliban delegation from Qatar included Shababuddin Dilawar and Jan Mohammad Madani from the Taliban’s political office in Qatari capital as well as the brother-in-law of Mullah Jacoob, son of the late Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar. Under a new strategy announced last year, the United States has stepped up air strikes and boosted assistance to Afghan government forces fighting the Taliban to try to break a stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table. Though the Afghan government still controls less than two-thirds of the country, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley touted the new strategy as a success and specifically mentioned possible future direct talks with the Taliban. Longest military operation by United States and its allies has failed to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. The settlement of Afghan problem through peaceful dialogue is only viable option. Unfortunately the dialogue which was initiated under Quadrilateral Mechanism was derailed by NDS and RAW. United States and all peace loving countries should support and encourage such talks. This is the high time that tangible measures should be taken to resolve Afghan problem. United States and other countries should facilitate and support dialogue process and should give preference to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan instead of their vested interests.


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