Islamabad signals it is ready for Taliban talks

By AFP
Published: January 16, 2012

PM Gilani expected to visit Kabul soon; Hekmatyar also expresses willingness for talks. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KABUL: Pakistan has made overtures to Afghanistan to resume talks over the Taliban which broke down following the assassination of Kabul’s chief peace envoy, an Afghan official said on Sunday.

“After Pakistan expressed readiness, the Afghan government has also agreed to resume the talks with Pakistan over the Taliban,” Esmael Qasimyar, a senior member of the Afghan government-appointed High Peace Council, told AFP.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Pakistan of responsibility for the murder of peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani in September and last month he said Pakistan was sabotaging all negotiations with the Taliban.

A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pakistan had recently sent a message through the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad saying that “Pakistan is willing to resume contacts and talks with Afghanistan”.

He said Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, was also planning to visit Afghanistan, but no dates had been set. Asked for comment, Karzai’s spokesperson Aimal Faizi said: “Pakistan plays a key role in talks because the militants’ leadership is believed to be in Pakistan.

“We emphasise on good relations with Pakistan and hope that our relations improve, and we hope with the help of Pakistan our peace talks will resume.”

Hekmatyar ready for talks

The leader of Afghanistan’s second-biggest insurgent group said in an interview published Sunday that he was ready for “meaningful talks” with all parties to end the decade-long war.

The statement by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of Hezb-i-Islami, comes after an announcement by the the Taliban that they will open
a political office in Qatar ahead of possible talks with the US.

But Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister, was dismissive of the results of contacts he said Hezb-i-Islami had already had with Washington and the government of President Karzai.

“We held talks with Kabul government as well as with the Americans on different occasions, but did not receive any clear, acceptable and realistic plan from them worth mentioning,” he told the Afghan Islamic Press news agency.

“The Kabul government is powerless and the Americans have no plan acceptable to the Afghan nation and the mujahedeen.”

Any negotiations should “pave (the) way for an agreed plan for the unconditional withdrawal of the foreign forces, guaranteeing Afghanistan’s independence, Afghans’ right to decide their fate and their national integrity,” he said.

Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP nearly two weeks ago that a delegation representing the group had travelled to Kabul and met the president “in a good atmosphere, and the results were good”.

A palace official told AFP that Hekmatyar’s delegation included Ghairat Baheer, one of his main lieutenants, and that after meeting Karzai they met US embassy officials.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2012.

Reader Comments (8)

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 15, 2012 - 9:00PM

    Pakistan and Afghanistan should break ties with all type of militants to restore peace in the region.

    Any militant cannot be a friend of either Pakistan or Afghanistan.

    The foreign militants should be pushed towards the corner so that they should either be killed or go back to their respective countries.

    The local militants should be pursued either to get killed or lay down the arms.

    No question of talking with any militant.

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  • Raj - USA
    Jan 15, 2012 - 10:48PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    Very well said. I agree with you 100%

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  • Mangal
    Jan 15, 2012 - 11:30PM

    @Muhammad Ali Siddiqui, I second that and very well said.We hope Pak army agree to that.

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  • Amir
    Jan 16, 2012 - 8:44AM

    TTP or Haqqanis both factions are sponsored and acting as proxies, afghans are the real stakeholders in the peace process, if US and Pak agree on a road map for afghanistan without India meddling in it, all kinds and types of talibans will automatically agree, after all talibans are within the community, only 10% are outsiders

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 16, 2012 - 11:02AM

    @Amir:
    {all kinds and types of talibans will automatically agree}

    No true blooded Taliban will ever agree to share power or lay down arms. Compromise / reconcialation is not in their genes. Period. Though I hope to be proved wrong.

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  • antanu g
    Jan 16, 2012 - 7:57PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui:
    you contradict yourself….for laying down the arms, there must be talks….dear only talks can solve the problem…killing itself is a problem…how it is going to solve one?

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Jan 16, 2012 - 8:41PM

    Amid schisms with the military, Pakistan has showed its readiness to resume talks with Afghanistan on the Taliban. The Gilani’s administration wants to demonstrate once more its determination to carry on – business as usual. However its efforts would be in vain, unless the ISI distances itself from the Haqqani Network. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former Afghan prime minister, now head of the Hezb-i-Islami said “The Kabul government ist powerless ….”The same can also be applied to Islamabad, as the fate of the current government is uncertain.

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  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 17, 2012 - 9:27AM

    And the Taliban is ready to retaliate with more bombings and killings, talks or no talks.

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