No Afghan Taliban leader has so far approached a joint Afghan-Pakistan-US team for the “safe passage” to join the reconciliation process, raising doubts about the success of the trilateral mechanism, The Express Tribune has learnt.
In a seemingly angry reaction to the idea of “safe passage”, the Taliban had quickly rejected the trilateral forum as an attempt to “create schisms” in their ranks and to divert attention from “real issues”.
A Taliban spokesman said on Sunday the trilateral forum would not work because the Taliban have their own system of negotiations and even if someone approached the trilateral forum, it should be understood that they were not representing the Taliban.
On Sunday diplomats and officials, requesting anonymity, confirmed to The Express Tribune that no Taliban leader has contacted any member country of the trilateral forum over the past six months. They, however, expressed hope that the mechanism would yield tangible results, insisting the process was new and it might need some time before it achieved the set goals.
An official also referred to some complications in the “safe passage” mechanism like the inclusion of Taliban leaders in the UN sanction list — many of the Taliban’s top leadership still faces UN curbs and they cannot travel legally.
“So if a Taliban leader, who wants to join the peace process and his name is on the UN sanctions list, would be delisted first to give him travel and physical protection,” the official said raising concerns regarding the mechanism. Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousaf termed the system “defective” and an attempt to create rifts within the militia.
“Anyone who approaches the so-called safe passage system will not be a representative of the Islamic Emirate,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2012.