Quetta Taliban showing signs of flexibility: Negotiator

Published: February 29, 2012
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Peace council chief says Afghan elders met Taliban in their individual capacity. PHOTO: REUTERS

Peace council chief says Afghan elders met Taliban in their individual capacity. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Just as political efforts to stabilise Afghanistan gather pace, the Quetta-based Taliban have started to show signs of flexibility towards dialogue, according to the head of a provincial Afghan peace council.

“From what I’ve heard from Afghan tribal elders who have met former Taliban commanders ‘in their individual capacity’, they’re willing to talk peace,” said Haji Ata Muhammad Ahmadi, chairman of the provincial peace council in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.

“They (Taliban) are also fed up with fighting – nobody can fight for ever,” Ahmadi told The Express Tribune by phone from Kandahar. However, he clarified that the Kandahar peace council, in its official capacity, hasn’t sent any delegation to engage the Quetta Shura in talks. “But yes, some Afghan tribal elders have individually travelled to Quetta and met with former Taliban commanders,” Ahmadi said.

Afghan and US officials have long believed that the Taliban hierarchy – known as the Quetta Shura – is based in Quetta from where it is directing the insurgency in Afghanistan. Pakistan, however, denies the existence of the shura.

Though Ahmadi’s senior colleague in Kabul sought to play down the Kandahar initiative, he shared Ahmadi’s optimism. “Let’s not play up this development,” said Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council.

“But yes, I’m hopeful about a final political settlement of the Afghan war,” he told The Express Tribune by phone. “The Taliban will have to sit across the table with Afghans to resolve this issue.”

Last week foreign media reported Afghan officials had been meeting for “some time” with mid-level Taliban commanders in Quetta. “In the last 10 days, our peace council delegation has gone to Quetta three times in twos and threes,” Atta Muhammad was quoted as saying on
Feb 22.

The Taliban have rejected the report.

Some Afghan factions, especially those who were part of the Northern Alliance, have time and again voiced concerns over giving the Taliban any role in a post-war Afghanistan.

But Ahmadi claimed that nobody was opposed to peace talks with the Taliban. “They’re sons of the Afghan soil. They cannot be ignored in the final settlement,” he said.

Ahmadi also welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s recent appeal to Afghan insurgent groups to shun violence and work for stabilising their war-torn country. “We welcome this move. And we expect Pakistan will match its words with deeds,” Ahmadi said.

“Pakistan has always helped Afghanistan in its hour of need. Our destinies are interlinked. We expect Pakistan will also play its role in stabilising Afghanistan,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 29th, 2012.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Feb 29, 2012 - 2:45PM

    Well what can you expect from US and their CIA patsies. To mislead and use dirty tricks in positional bargaining is game theory 101. Using criminals to kill innocent and lay blame on Taliban is really getting old. We know US game and it is coming to an end.

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  • AJ
    Feb 29, 2012 - 3:27PM

    Taliban in Quetta is a cancer and needs to be cut out and thrown, there is no room for a compromise. The sooner it is done, the lesser pain it would be.

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  • MAHMOOD
    Feb 29, 2012 - 3:40PM

    Editor ET: Mine is the first comment. Why ain’t you posting it. In case of rejection the sender should be automatically notified instead of waiting or sendind repeated comments.

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  • PakTiger
    Mar 1, 2012 - 1:39AM

    I still fail to understand. If talibans are disturbing the law and order situation in balochistan. then why these so called “thaik-e-daars of Baluchistan” i.e. harbyar Murree, talal bhugti etc are claiming to be peace makers? and yet they are blackmailing the government of Pakistan. They r individuals and they hold no value what so ever!

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 6:58AM

    @PakTiger:

    There is a difference:

    TTP: Death Squad, kills both side to incite a civil war. Loyal to US, you can see similar groups in Libya, Syria, Iraq with different names.

    Balouch Sepratists: Angry with Pakistan, incited by US for separation.

    Objectives:
    – Breakup Pakistan, benefits Israel and NWO. Also stops Chinese access to oil from Middle East.
    – Loot Mineral reserves of Pakistan.

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  • Shinwari
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:28AM

    well, I truly believe Pakistan should back up and let NATO & ANA do operations in Pakistan ranging from Waziristan to Lahore and Gilgit to Karachi, only that way the terrorism can be sort out and their sources can dried. Pakistani govt is completely incompetent of anything positive.

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  • Shinwari
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:33AM

    @Moise:
    So Mr. Moise if you Pakistanis love Taliban that much why dont you just elect mullah omar as your president? I’m sure he is more a pakistani than an Afghan

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  • MAHMOOD
    Mar 4, 2012 - 8:51AM

    I hate to say it but the word “flexibility” is not in the Taliban dictionary (I mean the true blooded ones). They consider their entire socio – economic – political world view as having compulsory divine sanction. And you are not supposed to tinker with that and invite the wrath of GOD. Also those opposed have to be simply put to death. Nobody has still now claimed if anything has changed.

    I keep banging my head against the wall but no one has ever attempted to define concrete terms of dialogue and compromise. Has anyone ever attempted to ask Taliban or they themselves indicated any willingness to atleast consider the following issues in any grand compromise / reconcialation:

    Willing to fight western style parliamentary elections.
    Burying old vendettas and willing to forgive and forget.
    Sharing key cabinet posts.
    Agreeing to let RADIO / TV entertainment channels function.
    Allow women to pursue education beyond primary level.
    Not bombing or destroying barber / CD shops
    Allowing women to work in some selected professions.
    Allowing women to be treated by male doctors in an emergency.
    Completely diassociating with the likes of Al-Qaeda.
    Not harbouring sectarian terrorists from across the border (like Riaz Basra)
    Not shaving the heads of Pak football team for appearing in shorts (In a lighter vein)
    Preaching as much as they want but not at gun point or theat of beheading.
    Respecting and giving full rights to minority sects and non muslims.

    The list is endless but whats the point. No TV anchor or commentator or official has ever cared to get into the nitty gritty of actual issues.

    My wait continues……………………………………

    Editor ET: Why are you not publishing my comment. Whats wrong with it? You owe me an excuse.

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  • MAHMOOD
    Mar 4, 2012 - 8:58AM

    Seems like your moderator has gone on long leave.

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  • MAHMOOD
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:00AM

    I have a written a 10 line simple comment. Not a thesis requiring more than two days to moderate. Wake up ET.

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