Kabul, Taliban resume clandestine peace talks
Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, brother of Mullah Omar, was among participants of the secret meetings held in September and October, a British newspaper reported.
The two rounds of talks are the first known negotiations to have taken place since a Pakistan-brokered process entirely broke down following the death in a US drone strike of Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
Mohammad Yaqoob, Mullah Omar’s son, may join the Doha group. Pakistan, which brokered peace talks last year, stayed away from the meetings, a Quetta Shura leader told the Guardian.
One senior US diplomat also participated in the meetings in Qatar, where the Taliban have been active on the diplomatic front over the years. The US embassy in Kabul refused commenting on the renewed peace push.
Attended by Akhund and Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai, the Afghan spymaster, the first meeting in early September “went positively and was held in a trouble-free atmosphere”.
Fierce fighting between government and insurgent forces in Kunduz, Helmand and several other provinces notwithstanding, a second meeting was held in early October.
According to the Quetta Shura member, the presence of the US official helped make the meeting possible. “Taliban believes the Afghan issue is a dispute with both the US and Afghan governments.”
Mullah Akhund was specially sent by the Taliban leadership council to Doha to underline the importance it attaches to the talks. “His presence made the talks more notable and shows that both the military and political Taliban are on the same page,” he remarked.
An aide of President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban and the unity government had become deeply disillusioned with Pakistan. “Pakistan was double-dealing and insincere with the Afghan government. We no longer think we need Pakistan and...”
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