Qatar convinces Taliban to meet Afghan government representatives

Qatar has secured assurances from the Taliban political envoys to sit face-to-face with representatives of the Afghan government in Doha, diplomatic sources have said. President Ashraf Ghani’s nominees will join Afghan political leaders who are scheduled to meet with Taliban in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on April 14-15.

This will be the second meeting between Taliban and the political leaders, including former president Hamid Karzai and presidential candidate Haneef Atmar, with the Taliban in less than three months. They last met in Moscow in early February.

President Ghani had refused to send members of the peace council to the Moscow meeting despite invitation by the organisers.

A senior Qatari anti-terrorism official, who is the main character behind Qatar’s involvement in the Afghan political negotiations, informed the Afghan president about the Taliban’s ‘willingness’ during his recent visit to Kabul, a diplomatic source privy to the development told Daily Times.

Dr Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, special envoy of minister of foreign affairs of Qatar for counter-terrorism and mediation of conflict resolution, regularly takes part in the Taliban-US talks in Doha. In Kabul, officials said a list of government representatives will be finalised in a couple of days, according to the Afghan media. President Ghani discussed invited senior Afghan leaders for consultations on the peace process and formation of delegation for talks with the Taliban, the presidential palace said. The president told the leaders that they can nominate negotiation team but insisted that those people should not be part of the team who have been speaking against the system. Taliban said late on Sunday that no one will partake in the conference as a representative of the Kabul administration. “Just like the previous Moscow conference, any individual who is part of Kabul administration and is listed as a participant will only participate in his personal capacity and share personal views,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. “The meeting is a conference in which the participants will only be clarifying their views and policies and sharing their stance with others,” he said, adding that the conference is not a negotiation summit or meeting. This will be the first time Taliban will meet the Afghan government leaders after talks in Murree in 2015. Pakistani officials believe the Murree process was ‘scuttled’ when the Afghan intelligence revealed death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar. Pakistan favours intra-Afghan dialogue and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a meeting with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad described the intra-Afghan dialogue as a ‘vital component of the reconciliation process’.

An official told Daily Times Pakistan will do anything to keep the peace process on track. “However, we expect that our honest and sincere approach is genuinely recognized by everyone, the US, Afghan government, Taliban and the regional and international community,” he added.

The author Tahir Khan is a distinguished member of CRSS’ Pakistan Afghanistan Track 1.5/II initiative Beyond Boundaries. 

Disclaimer: Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily endorsed or supported by the Center for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad.

Source: Daily Times

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