UNFA voices support for Taliban office in Doha
KABUL (PAN): The United National Front of Afghanistan (UNFA) political party on Wednesday voiced its support for a Taliban liaison office in Qatar for peace talks with the US, saying the talks should not affect the achievements so far made in Afghanistan over the past decade.
On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said they agreed to have an office outside Afghanistan to initiate a dialogue process with the international community.
"We are right now ready to have a political office overseas, in order to have an understanding with the international community, and in this regard we have reached an initial understanding with Qatar and relevant sites," Mujahid said.
A UNFA spokesman said they supported every effort leading to peace and stability in the country. "The Taliban's move is a positive step, but it also has some worrying messages," Syed Hussain Fazil Sancharki, the UNFA spokesman, said.
He feared if the Taliban office was used for other activities, instead of peace talks, it could create more challenges for the Afghan government and the country's political situation. "It is also not clear whether the office will be closed or not after the dialogue process is completed," he added.
About non-participation of Afghan officials in the talks, he said, since the government was unable to meet demands of Taliban to release their prisoners, the Taliban opted to contact the US government.
"If the Taliban lay their guns down, accept the constitution and the current government as a result of the peace talks, then it will be a good omen," he said. However, he feared increase in violence if the talks failed.
The Obama Administration on Tuesday appeared to be cautiously welcome to the Taliban move to open its office in Qatar, without issuing statements in direct support of such a development.
While the White House said it welcomes any move that would result in political reconciliation in Afghanistan, the State Department argued that no peace talks is possible in a region of conflict without the parties having a political address.
The US has reportedly agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantánamo Bay in return for the insurgents' agreement to open a political office for peace negotiations in Qatar, a British national daily newspaper said.
The Guardian, citing sources familiar with the talks in the US and in Afghanistan, said the handful of Taliban figures will include Mullah Khair Khowa, a former interior minister, and Noorullah Noori, a former governor in northern Afghanistan.
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