Afghan endgame: Islamabad, Kabul to revive Taliban office

Understanding reached during Nawaz’s Kabul trip.

Kamran Yousaf December 02, 2013
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to evolve a new mechanism that seeks to accelerate efforts for bringing a peaceful end to the 12-year-old conflict in the war-ravaged country, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Under the agreement, both sides would explore options on an ‘urgent basis’ to open a political office for the Taliban in either Turkey or Saudi Arabia, said a senior aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The understanding was reached during the premier’s recent trip to Kabul.

The official, who travelled with the prime minister on Saturday, told The Express Tribune that Islamabad asked Kabul to allow the Taliban to set up their office in Turkey or Saudi Arabia. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Islamabad politely turned down President Hamid Karzai’s request for a Taliban office in Pakistan.

“Our role [in the Afghan peace process] will remain that of a facilitator and not a leader … allowing the Taliban to open an office in Pakistan will be contrary to our principled position,” the official quoted the prime minister as saying.

He indicated that an important development is expected over the next few weeks regarding the Afghan Taliban’s office.

The faction set up a political office in Doha in June this year, but the move was immediately rejected by the Karzai administration following a row over the former’s portrayal of the office as an embassy of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The differences led to the closure of the Doha office within 24 hours of its opening.

The Pakistani official ruled out the possibility of the Doha process being revived. But the official held out the hope that “a similar process could be initiated in another country.”

Pakistan is considered crucial for any peace deal in Afghanistan because of its historic ties with the Afghan Taliban.  Several key Taliban commanders, including the insurgent group’s former deputy Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar remained in Pakistan’s custody.

However, Islamabad released many Taliban detainees as part of efforts to give new impetus to the peace efforts.

The official disclosed that the Afghan High Peace Council delegation already had detailed meeting with Baradar recently and in future more such meetings are planned.

“As the prime minister has stated very clearly, we have no favourites in Afghanistan. We will, therefore, encourage intra-Afghan dialogue,” he said.

During his talks with President Karzai, Premier Nawaz underscored the need for an early peace deal in the war-torn country.

Pakistan believes that peace deal between the Taliban and all other stakeholders in Afghanistan must be sealed before much of the US-led Nato forces leave the country by the end of 2014.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2013.


sure? | 10 years ago | Reply

@hammad: The reference here is to Afghan Taliban not TTP. Difference is that there could be a case made that Afghan Taliban are a rsistance force trying to fight an occupying force. No such statement can be made about TTP.

It is for TTP that Imran was talking about opening office. Apples and Oranges.

Rex Minor | 10 years ago | Reply

@Moiz Omar: Why not first of all concentrate on education to know the meaning of the phrase, " how to skin the cat"?

Rex Minor

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