Afghan Taliban negotiators have said that Tuesday’s attack near the presidential palace in Kabul will not affect the Qatar peace process.
According to officials, the brazen attack took place at the heart of Kabul in a neighbourhood where important buildings, including the Afghan presidential palace, ministry of defence, Nato base and American embassy are located.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed credit for the attack. He claimed the attackers inflicted heavy casualties on the ‘invading forces’ in the attack which was part of the ‘Khaled bin Walid spring offensive’.
The attack cast doubts on the future of the Qatar peace process, which could not kick off due to President Karzai’s refusal to join it.
However, a Taliban negotiator in Qatar said on Tuesday that the Kabul attack would not affect the peace process as “it is a political track” and that “there is no ceasefire agreement between the Taliban, the US and the Karzai regime”.
“The Qatar process is in fact for the purpose to stop such attacks and to avoid more bloodshed,” the Taliban official told The Express Tribune by phone from Doha. He requested not to be quoted in the report.
“No incident should be cited as an excuse for halting the peace process,” he added. “The issue of the Taliban military operations is completely separate as before the Kabul attack, the Taliban had also carried out several major operations.”
The Taliban official warned that no side should squander the chance for peace in Qatar which has “started after a long time, and complicated and hectic consultations”.
“The opening of the office in Qatar was not an easy task. The office is now an opportunity and a good chance for peace which you cannot achieve again and again,” the Taliban negotiator said. “Do not sacrifice the long-term objective of peace for minor issues.”
He was confident that the controversy over certain issues will be resolved in coming days that could pave the way for ‘exploratory’ talks with the United States.
Asked about the controversy over the Taliban flag and signboard of ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’, he said that the flag has not been removed but lowered from its original position. “We have not removed the signboard but the Qatari officials have done it,” he went on to say.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.
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