Karzai devises plan for parallel talks with Taliban

High Peace Council member kidnapped in Kunar province.

Agencies January 30, 2012

KABUL: As US officials and Taliban negotiators reportedly open exploratory talks in the Gulf state of Qatar, a disillusioned administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is reportedly planning a parallel initiative to woo the hardline militia.

According to the BBC, a delegation of Afghan officials will be meeting with Taliban negotiators in Saudi Arabia in coming weeks ahead of the opening of a Taliban liaison office in Qatar.

“Even if a Taliban office is established in Qatar, we will obviously pursue other efforts in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” a senior Afghan official told the BBC. The Taliban have refused to recognise the Karzai administration and called it an ‘American stooge’.

Notwithstanding a public endorsement of the process, Karzai is not happy with the US move to pursue talks with the Taliban in Qatar without his administration being in the loop. In a related development, Afghan lawmakers also formed a 40-member group, ‘Reform and Justice’, to support the peace process. “Our group’s main objective is to back the peace campaign,” Rafiullah Haideri, a member of Meshrano Jirga, from the eastern Kunar province and leader of the group, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Haideri said the reconciliation effort had been initiated by the Afghan government while the United States has also launched a similar process separately.

“The 40-member parliamentary group will make efforts to ensure justice in the country,” Haideri said.

Meanwhile in Haideri’s province, the Taliban kidnapped a member of the High Peace Council set up by President Hamid Karzai to liaise with insurgents, underscoring the difficulty negotiators face in winning support for nascent negotiations from the Taliban front-line. Maulvi Shafihullah Shafih, a low-level member of the council, disappeared on Friday in the Asmar district of Kunar province, authorities said on Sunday. Shafih had travelled from Kabul to meet insurgents and encourage them to join the peace process after the militia’s willingness to open a ‘liaison office’ in Qatar.

“As soon as he left his car Taliban captured him,” said Shahzada Shahid, another member of the 70-member council who had travelled to Asadabad, the capital of Kunar, in an effort to free Shafih with support from community elders.

Shafih’s abduction comes four months after the head of the High Peace Council, former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated by an insurgent carrying a bomb hidden in his turban. Kunar Governor Fazlullah Wahidi said Shafih had been carrying a letter from a senior member of the peace council to give to insurgents. A Taliban spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2012.


Aleena | 9 years ago | Reply The people who killed Rabbani now are willing to make peace council effective
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