The Afghan Taliban have called for a new constitution as a pre-condition for it joining the nation’s fledgling peace process, according to a declaration issued by representatives at a landmark meeting in France.
The group also signalled its willingness to share power with other Afghan groups and their representatives. “Our respected Amir-ul-Momineen, Mullah Muhammad Omar has repeatedly called for understanding and reconciliation. Mullah Omar respects his political opponents,” Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar, the Taliban’s top negotiator told the Paris conference.
Key representatives from the country’s main warring factions met on Thursday for two days of talks that diplomats hope will bolster relations in the country.
“Afghanistan’s present constitution has no value for us because it was made under the shadows of B-52 bombers of the invaders,” said the declaration, which was handed to participants during the meeting and later released to the media.
The Taliban mediator underlined the need for constitutional amendments to “protect personal, political and social rights of the people and to ensure equal rights to all communities without discrimination”.
He said that Afghan scholars will draft a constitution in a free atmosphere that will be presented to the people for approval.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers amendments to the constitution necessary for the balance of power in the future Islamic government or for participation of all sides of the Afghan government,” the statement said. The statement also praised the Taliban’s presence and achievements in the country.
Addressing peace efforts, the Taliban leader maintained that foreigners and the Kabul regime are not interested in the peace process and they are ‘not willing to pursue the principles of peace’.
“Had the invaders believed in peace, they would have listened to the just proposals,” he said in a veiled reference to the stalled talks in Qatar over Taliban prisoners.
General amnesty plan
Sources privy to the Paris conference told The Express Tribune that the delegates also discussed general amnesty in Afghanistan, to push the peace process forward.
“Our political approach is now clear to the world community. The Taliban’s presence in the Paris conference reflects our political role,” Dilawar said in his Pashto-statement, a copy of which was emailed to The Express Tribune.
He also referred to the Taliban’s quest for political office in Qatar, where they have held preliminary talks with the United States, which are currently deadlocked over the issue of Taliban prisoners.
Though Dilawar did not reject the election process in Afghanistan, he stressed that polls in the presence of what he called “invading forces” would not produce results. (With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.