Once spoiler, Pakistan starts behind-scenes aid to U.S.-Taliban talks

11 February, 2019, 11:24 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Afghan National Army prepare for an operation against insurgents in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province

In the meantime, Khalilzad said the Taliban leaders may participate in future summits in the presence of Afghan government representatives. Some of them also warned that the current Afghan government would not have enough support to stay in power without a U.S. military presence. "The release of Mullah Baradar, which was my request.they (Pakistan) accommodated that, because Mullah Baradar has a reputation of being more open, more pro-peace", said the top American envoy who is leading the Trump Administration's efforts to have peace talks with the Taliban.

"A peace agreement can allow withdrawal".

The Afghan Taliban has said that despite the ongoing talks with the U.S. and other regional powers, it had "not yet reached" any conclusion that would entail an immediate end to hostilities against America and its allies, according to a media report.

Responding to a question regarding the Taliban's support to the al-Qaeda leadership, which led to the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Mujahid said that: "The Islamic Emirate sheltered those foreign Mujahideen (Al Qaeda operatives) that had arrived in Afghanistan during the period of jihad against the Soviet Union and remained behind as [an] inheritance".

The Taliban control almost half of Afghanistan, and are more powerful than at any time since the 2001 US-led invasion after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.

"We are in the early stages of a protracted process to end the long suffering of the Afghan people and to protect the United States ... from terrorism from Afghanistan", Khalilzad said during his first public appearance since meeting with Taliban officials last month in Doha, Qatar. Even if the troop withdrawal and Taliban assurances on denying haven to extremist groups were fully settled, a peace agreement would not be completed until numerous other issues such as political participation are decided, he said.

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Led by Taliban's chief negotiator Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, ten senior officials from the group this week travelled to Moscow for talks with Afghan politicians. He added that more talks are planned to "flesh out" the Taliban's commitments. "We have already realized that it is just impossible", he told Sputnik. He said he wants those intra-Afghan negotiations to start immediately.

"Pakistan has tried to facilitate talks between the Taliban and the United States and also favors inter-Afghan dialogue including between the Taliban and the (Afghan) government", he said.

He said the Taliban are unwilling to negotiate with the Afghan government, but added there are "indications" that they would be willing to do so in a "multiparty arrangement".

"They (the Taliban) say they made a mistake in how they dealt with women the last time", Khalilzad said. "His rivals, influential politicians and power brokers had taken part in it and agreed on certain things", one army general who served in Ghani's administration told Arab News, requesting anonymity.

They "called for the protection of freedom of speech in line with Islamic principles, and to undertake efforts to attract global assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan's infrastructure".

Pakistan's role in the peace negotiations is a delicate one, with Islamabad seeking to avoid demonstrating the kind of broad influence over the Taliban that Washington has long accused it of having.

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