No one contacted us, says Taliban’s Qatar office
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghan Taliban’s Qatar office has said it has not been contacted regarding an upcoming peace gathering in Islamabad as part of a four-nation push to revive the stalled peace process.
The Taliban’s political office expressed its unawareness about any expected peace talks on Wednesday, a day after the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, held its fourth meeting in Kabul and announced after the meeting that Pakistan will host direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban in early March.
After the group meeting in Kabul, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement, saying the first direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government would take place in the next two weeks in Islamabad.
But the Taliban’s Doha office told Pajhwok Afghan News that they were unaware of the decision and that no one had contacted them in this regard.
The office said the Islamic Emirate had clarified its stance about all affairs of Afghanistan during a conference organized by the Pugwash organization in Qatar last month, calling on all participants to help the movement expel foreign troops from the country and establish Islamic system.
The Taliban expressed their unawareness about likely peace talks in Pakistan two days after the Pakistani military chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, visited Qatar and urged the Qatari leadership to encourage the Taliban leaders for peace talks with the Afghan government, sources said.
Analysts say Pakistan is a good choice to be a venue for the peace talks but they are skeptical about participation of key Taliban leaders in the negotiations.
One of them, Khushal Khalil, told Pajhwok Afghan News Pakistan had influence over Afghan Taliban as most of their top leadership was residing there.
He said the Taliban could easily come to peace talks in Pakistan where such parlays would yield positive results. When asked if the Taliban would appear for talks in Pakistan, he said it depended on how much Pakistan was giving importance to the peace talks and how much the country was interested in making the process a success.
He believed the Taliban would somehow attend the peace talks in Pakistan because Islamabad, if wanted, could bring them to the negotiating table the way it brought them to the talks in Murree.
Another analyst, Javed Ghafoor, held similar views and said Pakistan could play a key role in reviving the Afghan peace talks.
He said the Afghans and the Afghan government believed that Pakistan was behind all the conflicts and misfortunes in Afghanistan and the talks in Islamabad would be beneficial in the presence of China and the US.
Ghafoor said it was possible that some Taliban representatives may join the direct talks in Islamabad but he was not optimistic about the participation of high-level Taliban leaders.
But yet another political analyst Hassan Haqyar held a different view. He said the Taliban did not trust much Pakistan and the Afghan government also always accused the neighboring country of interference in Afghanistan’s affairs, therefore Pakistan as a venue for the talks was not a good choice.
“Because the hosts enjoy much influence on the guests, that’s why I think Pakistan is not a good choice to be the venue for talks.”
Haqyar did not believe anyone from the Taliban’s Qatar office and Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s representatives would attend the talks in Islamabad.
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