Stalemate to continue: Taliban rule out talks with Karzai during Qatar visit

Afghan president will discuss establishment of a Taliban office during his upcoming visit.

Tahir Khan March 25, 2013
Taliban were quick to reject any possibility of such talks with the president or any other member of his official delegation. PHOTO: EXPRESS/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban on Sunday ruled out the possibility of holding negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his upcoming visit to Qatar, where he will discuss peace process with the host leaders.

The move comes within hours of an Afghan foreign ministry announcement that President Karzai would travel to Qatar soon to discuss the reconciliation process in Afghanistan and bilateral matters with the leadership of the Gulf state.

Karzai, according to foreign ministry’s spokesman Janan Mosazai, will hold talks on two main issues including establishment of Taliban liaison office in Qatar and the improvement of bilateral ties between the two countries.

The officials say that the leadership of Afghan High Peace Council will also accompany the Afghan president on the visit, indicating that the peace process will be high on the agenda.

However, the president’s spokesperson, Aimal Faizi, told the media in Kabul that it has not yet been decided whether Karzai will meet with Taliban representatives during his stay.

For their part, the Taliban were quick to reject any possibility of such talks with the president or any other member of his official delegation. “There is no plan of Taliban negotiators to meet Karzai,” the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Sunday.

“There is no change in our policy of not holding talks with the Afghan government,” Mujahid told The Express Tribune via phone from Afghanistan when his comments were sought about the Afghan officials indicating any such contact in Qatar.

Nearly 25 Taliban representatives are now living in Qatar; some of them had held a series of ‘exploratory talks’ with the United States (US), until the Taliban suspended the process early last year.

They are hopeful of recognition of their political office in Qatar as it will provide them an address and a place to interact with the world community.

An Afghan official in Pakistan said President Karzai is likely to give his approval to the opening of the office in his talks with the Qatari leaders.

Requesting not to be identified, the official told The Express Tribune that the Afghan president will seek cooperation from the Qatari authorities to encourage Taliban for direct talks with his government. It is strongly believed that the Qatari government could play an important role in establishing contacts between Taliban and the Karzai government.

The Taliban spokesman, however, insisted that talks with the Karzai government are useless as it “has no powers and cannot take decisions independently.”

The Taliban political office is receiving international support as the pullout of Nato troops from the region is fast approaching.

In January, US President Barack Obama endorsed the opening of a Taliban office in a third-party country to facilitate reconciliation talks when he received President Karzai in Washington.

Last month, British Prime Minister, David Cameron and President Asif Ali Zardari backed the Taliban political office at a trilateral summit along with President Karzai in London.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2013.


Aslam Malik | 8 years ago | Reply

United States is close allies with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is well established that the chief financier of extremist militant groups for the past 3 decades, including Al Qaeda, are in fact Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While Qatari state-owned propaganda Al Jazeera apply a veneer of progressive pro-democracy to its narratives, Qatar itself is involved in arming, funding, and even providing direct military support for sectarian extremists from northern Mali, to Libya, to Syria and Pakistan. Visits and talks will make no difference.

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