Peace talks with Taliban: Karzai govt opposes dialogue outside Afghanistan

Published: December 26, 2012

Stance likely to cause hurdles for upcoming conference with Taliban in Turkmenistan. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Days after the Taliban interacted with their nemesis in Paris for the first time to discuss a political solution to the post-2014 Afghanistan, the Afghan government has decided to oppose any Afghan peace talks and agreements outside the country.

The stance of President Hamid Karzai’s administration is likely to cast a shadow over a proposed conference in Turkmenistan that is likely to be attended by the Taliban.

The Turkmen president had planned to host the representatives of the Taliban and their opponents with the help of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in two months.

UN officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan have already started preparations for the talks and a group of diplomats met Hizb-e-Islami’s political affairs in-charge Dr Ghairat Baheer in Islamabad last week, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The Taliban announced last week that they will not attend any talks with the UNAMA if held in Kabul, leaving the UN mission in a difficult position.

Now, the Afghan government’s announcement to not accept any agreement and peace talks outside the country has further complicated the much-needed peace process, especially as the 2014 deadline nears.

Analysts

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan reiterates that any intra-Afghan consultative meetings related to the Afghan peace process must take place in agreement with the government of Afghanistan and inside Afghanistan,” the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement.

However, the Afghan ministry did make a contradictory announcement in reference to the stalled Qatar dialogue: “It is to be noted that direct official negotiations between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban may take place outside the country through official processes, including the establishment of a Taliban Movement Office in Qatar,” the statement added.

A copy of the statement was also sent to The Express Tribune on Tuesday. The announcement indicated that the government was open to negotiations outside Afghanistan as long as they were directly between themselves and the Taliban.

The statement also described as incorrect media reports about “Afghanistan being in agreement with consultative meetings related to the peace process that take place outside the country without coordination with the government of Afghanistan”.

Afghan analysts have raised concerns over the Kabul regime’s decision, and said that the Karzai administration was itself installed under the Bonn process.

“The Afghan government has never been sincere in the peace process and now it has come up with an illogical stand that will cripple the much-needed reconciliation process,” Ustad Zaman Muzammil, an Afghan analyst and writer, told The Express Tribune.

He also criticised the Afghan government for setting pre-conditions for the Taliban to enter the dialogue process.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in his previous statement had insisted on a solution to the Afghan problem through an intra-Afghan dialogue.

In Kabul, Presidential Spokesperson Emal Faizi said on Tuesday that Afghanistan was no longer what it was ten years ago and that “it is a sovereign country and can host intra-Afghan dialogue”.

Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Zalmai Rasoul, in a veiled reference to the upcoming talks in Turkmenistan, told the Afghan senate in Kabul on Tuesday that the Afghan government can solve every problem and can take confidence-building measures, the Afghan media reported.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2012.

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