Taliban leaders in secret negotiations with govt
KABUL (PAN): A number of Taliban leaders are in secret negotiations with the government to arrive at a common strategy to end the conflict, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday.
Ministry spokesman told a weekly media briefing in Kabul, those in contact with the government were in favour of a negotiated settlement. He said there were divisions among insurgents on the issue.
“The exclusive objective of some elements is terrorism and harassment, intent upon undermining the gains the government has achieved over past decade,” he said.
He added the government was ready to sit across negotiating table with the militants who were interested in a political solution to the problem, respect for the country’s constitution and preservation of the achievements made since 2001.
Musazai hastened to explain the government would continue to pursue military action against its armed opponents, who opposed peace parley, till they were completely vanquished.
About President Hamid Karzai’s two-day visit to Islamabad, the spokesman said the neighbours had held wide-ranging talks on the Afghan-led reconciliation campaign, including facilitation of direct contacts between Taliban leaders and the High Peace Council.
“We hope Pakistan will initiate practical steps to translate the decisions taken during the president’s trip,” he remarked, reiterating the government was ready to guarantee Taliban’s security if they set up their political office within the country.
If they were worried about their security, the Taliban could open their office in another Muslim country, he continued.
In response to another query, he said higher-level officials had been tasked with negotiating the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US. From a technical perspective, progress had been made in talks, but some political issues were yet to be addressed, he continued.
Once those issues are resolved, the BSA text will be placed before a Loya Jirga for approval, according to the spokesman, who said the participation of different groups’ leaders was important in the consultative forum that would submit its suggestions to the government.
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