Taliban inclined to peace parleys: Mutasim
KABUL (PAN): Key Taliban leader Mullah Agha Jan Mutasim, who was removed last week from the United Nations blacklist, on Monday called for stepping up the delisting process to pave the ground for a negotiated end to the war.
The UN removed Mutasim’s name from its blacklist in a bid to kick-start the stalled peace talks between the insurgents and the United States.
In a statement, the former Taliban minister of treasury said the people of Afghanistan were tired of war and wanted peace and stability in their homeland.
Mutasim, who is currently living in Turkey, acknowledged the UN and the US had taken steps toward ending the decade-long conflict. Delisting some of the Taliban figures was one of the measures.
Hailing the UN decision as a respectable move, he thanked the world body, the Security Council, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), Saudi Arabia officials, the government of Turkey and all those who played a role in this regard.
“Still many Taliban remain on the list,” explained Mutasim -- a son-in-law of Mullah Omar, the Taliban supreme leader. Removing the Taliban from the sanctions list and intensifying that process would help bring lasting peace to Afghanistan, he hoped.
Mutasim was among the three Taliban envoys who attended a 2011 meeting with United States officials in Bonn and Doha. The Taliban later announced they would open a political office in Doha, but called off talks after the US rejected their demands for the release of their prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.
Mutasim also demanded an immediate release of the Taliban prisoners from the facility, saying the detainees be given the freedom to decide their fate. “We believe such steps by the international community will pave the way for brining stability to Afghanistan…”
He said the worst effect of the conflict was that it had resulted in deep political instability, something that was engulfing neighbouring countries as well. It was the time to put an end to the war and resolve problems through negotiations, he insisted.
“It is fortunate that the warring parties have realised this necessity and have taken steps to that end and the Taliban consider inclination to peace talks a key point,” he remarked.
The US is reportedly pondering over the release of some Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay prison. The UN last year removed names of some Taliban from its blacklist.
They included Abdul Hakim Mujahid, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Abdul Sattar Paktees, Abdul Samad Khaksar and Mohammad Islam Mohammadi.
The UN had earlier provided a limited waiver to Mutasim, allowing him to travel to Turkey for treatment. His removal from the 1988 list, created in 2011, allows him to travel freely and engage in political activities.
He disappeared in Pakistan along with Mullah Omar in 2001. In 2003, he said in an online interview that he had been given charge of the Taliban’s new political affairs commission.
In 2009, Mutasim took charge of the Taliban’s key decision-making body, the Quetta Shura. He laid down several preconditions for talks, calling for a complete western troop withdrawal, the release of all prisoners and an end to UN sanctions.
Once, Mutasim was reported to have been tried and found guilty by a Taliban council on allegations of maintaining unauthorised contact with European diplomats. His key rival, Abdul Ghani Baradar, then took control of the Shura.
Both Mutasim and Baradar were arrested by Pakistan in 2010, as part of a series of raids to stop the Taliban from striking an independent deal with the United States.
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