ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban negotiators have told Pakistan they are not ready to hold peace talks with President Ashraf Ghani’s government for now, sources in the insurgent group told The Express Tribune on Friday.
Three senior members of the Qatar-based Taliban political office arrived in Pakistan in late October after reports suggested that a senior Taliban leader had met Afghanistan’s spy chief in the Gulf country in the presence a senior US official.
“The Taliban representatives have wrapped up their nearly two-week visit and conveyed to Pakistani officials that they have not yet decided to enter into dialogue with the Kabul administration,” a Taliban source said. “The Taliban leaders insisted they could only say whether or not the group will join talks after two or three months,” the source added.
Other sources familiar with Taliban internal discussions said Pakistan told the visiting negotiators that it wants the Taliban to join the peace process.
Pakistan is seemingly upset at the Taliban’s refusal to come to the negotiation table and could press them to review their stance on the peace process. It is widely believed that the arrest of senior Taliban leader Ahmadullah Muti alias Mullah Nanai last month in Balochistan was aimed at conveying a message to the group to join the peace process. Nanai is seen as one of the senior Taliban leaders opposed to negotiations.
Taliban sources confirmed the detention of Nanai and three other leaders but gave no reasons for the arrests. A Taliban official had earlier stated that the Qatar-based Taliban leaders had also ‘sought an explanation’ from Pakistan about the arrest of the leaders.
Meanwhile, Hizb-e-Islami chief Gulbuddin Hekmayar has urged US president-elect Donald Trump to pull out troops from Afghanistan. “Withdraw your forces and leave Afghans to decide their fate,” he said in a letter to Trump posted on the website of the group’s Daily Shahadat newspaper.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2016.