Dialogue with the US: Afghan Taliban share ‘peace’ blueprint with Pakistan

Published: January 25, 2012

" We’ve been consistently saying that the US will never achieve its goal of militarily subjugating the Afghans," Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid.

ISLAMABAD: 

The Afghan Taliban have shared with Pakistan the ‘functional blueprint” of their formal talks with US officials in the Gulf state of Qatar, an Afghan leader told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.

It is possibly the first time that the Taliban have shared details of what they will be discussing with US negotiators, even though they haven’t divulged what had been previously discussed.

“The Taliban have asked Pakistan to point out if it has any objection to the issues they have prioritised for talks with the US,” the Afghan leader, privy to the developments, told The Express Tribune.

The Taliban have also updated the Haqqani network, the deadliest of all Taliban factions, on the round of dialogue with the US and the future plan, he said.

Dr Nasiruddin Haqqani, the elder brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, recently travelled to the United Arab Emirates and met with the top Taliban negotiator, Tayyeb Agha, to apprise him of the Taliban-US interaction.

“Nasiruddin could not travel to Qatar for some reason and went to Dubai to meet with Agha,” the Afghan leader said, adding that Agha flew to Dubai to meet with the Haqqani network leader. The Afghan leader, who requested not to be identified, met Nasiruddin on his return from Dubai.

The Afghan leader did not confirm media reports about the release and subsequent repatriation of some Taliban prisoners from the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. He claimed that a senior Qatari official is also playing an important role in the talks.

However, he said, Taliban negotiators have asked for the release of several key Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo, Bagram, Pul-i-Charkhi and other prisons who would be part of ‘formal negotiations’.

Former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef voiced support for the US-Taliban talks but strongly opposed the involvement of ‘neighbouring countries’ in the process.

“If Pakistan is involved in the talks, then Iran, India and other neighbours will also want to have a say in the process. Afghans cannot afford such rivalries. Afghans must make decisions independently and all countries should extend diplomatic support to the Afghan peace process,” Zaeef told The Express Tribune by phone from Kabul on Tuesday.

“Afghans are passing through a difficult phase and if other countries enter the dialogue process at this stage, then the process would not produce tangible results,” Zaeef added. At the same time, he said, Afghans expect the peace process to move forward.

Qatar will also soon send a delegation to Kabul to try and win over the Afghan authorities, who have expressed strong reservations about the ‘secret US-Taliban talks’. In December last year, the Afghan High Peace Council had announced it would send a delegation to Qatar — but nothing has been heard from them ever since.

President Hamid Karzai, in his recent speech to the Afghan parliament, again expressed his government’s desire that a Taliban office be opened either in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a brief email, confirmed to The Express Tribune that his group had formally opened a liaison office in the Qatari capital but did not share details.

Like Afghanistan, Pakistan is also not happy with US efforts to bypass it in the Afghan peace process. “I believe Pakistan is aware of the developments in Qatar but has not been given a complete picture of the talks,” an Afghan diplomat told The Express Tribune.

After being ignored in the Qatar dialogue process, top Pakistani and Afghan leaders recently agreed to revive their joint peace efforts, stalled in the wake of the September assassination of top Afghan peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani, the diplomat said.

He said Pakistan has proposed that President Hamid Karzai travel to Islamabad while the Afghan government wants President Asif Zardari or Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to visit Kabul.

Islamabad and Kabul argue that Doha is not a suitable place for a Taliban political office for several reasons. They argue that Qatar is a small country in the Islamic world and that many Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, are opposed to this venue for the Taliban office. Despite repeated attempts by The Express Tribune, the Foreign Office spokesperson could not be reached for comments.

(Read: Seeking clarity within confusion)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Roflcopter
    Jan 25, 2012 - 5:14AM

    “The Taliban have asked Pakistan to point out if it has any objection to the issues they have prioritised for talks with the US,”

    It is amazing that even after Pakistan backstabbed Afghan Taliban after 9/11, today Afghan Taliban still put Pakistans interest at the forefront. They are indeed our true allies.Recommend

  • Bobola
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:14AM

    @Roflcopter:
    Which goes some way to support the American distrust of Pakistani intentions and cooperation.

    Recommend

  • Imran
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:32AM

    The one who pays the pipr calls the tune. They r still heavily dependent on us fr funding.Recommend

  • Kafka
    Jan 25, 2012 - 10:17AM

    “If Pakistan is involved in the talks, then Iran, India and other neighbours will also want to have a say in the process” – Zaeef.

    Well Pakistan has lost over 35,000 civilians and 5,000 soldiers in this war, it has all the rights to be involved in this process.

    Recommend

  • Aceleaf
    Jan 25, 2012 - 10:19AM

    Taliban are spent force.They have lost morality by carrying suicide attacks against civilians.
    Pakistan must do away with these costly proxy agents. Guys like Mullha Omer are irrelevent. They were part of genocide. They cant be a normal persons.

    Recommend

  • Mangal
    Jan 25, 2012 - 12:01PM

    @roflocptor, yes, you see how faithful and loyal servants they are… I wish I knew how you guys brainwashed them and turned them against their own people,,, brilliant, just brilliant.I hope one of your country’s general write a book about how they did it…

    Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 25, 2012 - 1:16PM

    @Aceleaf:

    {Taliban are spent force}

    Unfortunately I cannot agree with that assessment although I have been condemning them most vehemently.
    They are no one’s proxy or they would have listened to their masters immediately after 9/11 and avoided total destruction of their rule.
    Any force howsoever misguided / narrow minded / bigoted cannot be easily defeated if they have a never ending supply of suicide bombers. Of course they cannot hold fixed positions in cities but that’s little comfort.
    If they can find large number of supporters / sympathizers’ in a relatively liberal / educated / democratic country like Pakistan (an abiding shame), Afghanistan is a poor / backward country.

    Recommend

  • antanu g
    Jan 25, 2012 - 1:30PM

    afghan cnt do without pak….its a fact.

    Recommend

  • antony
    Jan 25, 2012 - 1:40PM

    @roflocptor, When the taliban take revenge it envitably kills innocent pakistani or aghanistan people along with few NATO targets ..I wish what would be your support to this method when you are in the next impact zone of the attack somehow and someway . I know there wont be any response of this kind.

    Recommend

  • BS.Detecter
    Jan 25, 2012 - 2:04PM

    @Aceleaf:
    Afghan Talibans are not at all same as the TTP.

    Afghanis are fighting their occupiers, invaders while TTP is busy killing civilians for no cause
    All the sane minds in the country should ask the question where these savages getting the weapons and funding from.

    Recommend

  • Roflcopter
    Jan 25, 2012 - 4:23PM

    @Bobola, Couldn’t care less what US thinks, Pakistans interests are supreme.
    @Mangal, Afghan Taliban are not against their people. Taliban have massive public support which is the reason that after a decade of invasion they are still strong.
    @antony, Afghan Taliban have never taken revenge. You’re talking about TTP (fake Taliban). Also this argument that I wouldn’t be supporting Afghan Taliban if they had bombed me works both ways in that you wouldn’t be supporting NATO if they had bombed your family.

    Recommend

  • Arya
    Jan 25, 2012 - 7:06PM

    @ Hasan Mehmood

    If they can find large number of supporters / sympathizers’ in a relatively liberal / educated / democratic country like Pakistan (an abiding shame), Afghanistan is a poor / backward country.

    Which Pakistan do you live in my delusional friend. Relatively liberal and educated and democratic, you make me break out in a guffaw. The power of denial is so strong among you English medium Pakistanis it is hilarious.

    Pakistan likes to think it is important in these peace talks and tries to project this position of power but it is a paper tiger with no influence in Afghanistan. Recommend

  • Arya
    Jan 25, 2012 - 7:12PM

    @ Roflcopter

    You are not an Afghan or Pashtun and have no idea what you are talking about. Go ask the victims of suicide bombers in Kandahar, Helmand, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Logar, Urozgan, Nangarhar, Kunar and other provinces if they like the Taliban or their puppeteer and see what response you get.

    The days of Pakistani influence in Afghanistan is over my friend. Wake up and smell the chewing tobbacco you put in your mouth, which has numbed your senses and deluded your thinking.

    Recommend

  • Roflcopter
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:54PM

    @Arya, I’m awake but you seem to be dreaming, the days of Pakistani influence are only starting with Taliban emerging victorious. Sure not every Afghan likes Taliban but vast majority are united against foreign occupation ;).

    Recommend

  • Arya
    Jan 25, 2012 - 9:14PM

    @Rolfcopter
    Keep smoking that good stuff. Wishful thinking is what Pakistanis thrive on. If you think the Taliban are coming back to power you are living in the past.

    The foreign occupation is not ending at least until 2024 and the ANA numbers will swell up to 350,000 by 2014, which will check any dreams and aspirations the Taliban may have on ruling Afghanistan again.

    Pakistan can keep on dreaming but it is a nightmare they will wake up to.

    Recommend

  • HASAN MEHMOOD
    Jan 26, 2012 - 12:20AM

    @Arya:
    Me and delusional? Must be my limited command of English that I failed to get my view point across. Can you deny the vast difference between Afghanistan and Pakistan w.r.t Education level, democratic traditions and social / cultural values. THATS ONLY COMPARATIVE AND NOT A STAND ALONE STATEMENT.

    If you think that Pakistan has no relevance and is a paper tiger its your opinion. I wish you had commented instead on my main idea whereby I was trying to paint a realistic picture howsoever painful without in any way endorsing Taliban.

    Recommend

  • Roflcopter
    Jan 26, 2012 - 4:24PM

    @Arya, I don’t smoke but you seem to be addicted. Whether you like it or not Taliban are coming back which is why US is talking to them and Karzai is going crazy ;). Most foreign troops will leave by 2014 and we all know the capability of ANA, majority of whom will likely defect after foreign forces leave lol. It is better if you accept reality rather then live in a Taliban free wonderland ;)

    Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 26, 2012 - 7:19PM

    @Roflcopter:
    You say that “Taliban have massive public support which is the reason that after a decade of invasion they are still strong”
    Wow, people of Afghanistan can’t wait to go back to the seventh century, NO girls education, NO music, NO movies or TV, NO cricket or kite flying, NO FUTURE!
    If Taliban had such support they wouldn’t be sending “night letters” to terrify people! I am sure you spent much time in Afghanistan under the Taliban before 9/11 and thought it was just great!

    Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 26, 2012 - 7:21PM

    @Roflcopter:
    So would YOU like to live under Taliban rule that you want for everyone else in Afghanistan!

    Recommend

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