ISLAMABAD: Afghan officials say they have shared with Pakistan a list of Taliban leaders who they want to attend direct talks expected to be held in the coming days.
Senior Afghan, Chinese, Pakistani and American officials asked the Taliban on February 23 to take part in the talks by the first week of March.
Azadi Radio has quoted an unnamed Afghan official as saying that a list of at least 10 Taliban leaders has been shared with Pakistan with a request to encourage them to join the talks.
“These 10 Taliban are influential and their joining the talks will give a boost to the peace process,” said an official who requested not to be identified.
Afghan journalists say they were invited to a background briefing where the official claimed the list was shared with Pakistan during the fourth round of the quadrilateral meeting in Kabul. The Afghan official did not disclose the names of the Taliban leaders.
The official said the 10 leaders belonged to different Taliban groups and the Haqqani Network, adding that Pakistan had been asked to bring these Taliban to the negotiating table. “The Afghan government has worked a lot to know about their influence within the Taliban ranks,” according to the report.
Pakistan insists that it is a shared responsibility to encourage the Taliban groups to join the peace talks. Dr Naeem Wardak, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said they do not know what the four-nation group was talking about.
He told The Express Tribune that the Qatar office was empowered to deal with political negotiations, but it was unaware what the officials of the four countries have been discussing.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2016.