In a major development, senior Afghan Taliban leaders have announced their decision to hold dialogue with the government of President Hamid Karzai and all Afghan factions, leader of the group Agha Jan Mutasim told The Express Tribune late on Wednesday.
The Taliban leaders who had gathered in Dubai announced that the Afghan Taliban should hold talks with Afghans as Pakistan is holding talks with its own Taliban to end bloodshed.
Agha Jan said that the Dubai meeting was attended by nearly 20 senior Taliban leaders, including seven former ministers in the Taliban government, eight senior military commanders and four former Taliban diplomats.
“I will not disclose the names at this stage but they will be announced shortly,” he told The Express Tribune from UAE by the phone.
“But I can say that the people who attended the meeting had been very important during the Taliban government as well as in the resistance against the foreign forces. Their role is important on the political side,” the Taliban leader said.
While the Taliban’s appointed spokesman did not comment on the development, it is pertinent to mention that the groups has neither disowned nor owned Mutasim’s peace efforts in the past.
Agha Jan, the former chief of the Taliban’s powerful political commission, had shifted to Turkey after he was shot and injured in Karachi in 2010. He had made several attempts in the past to launch a political and peace initiative with the help of some senior Taliban leaders but made the announcement after he succeeded in convincing them to join his process.
“If Pakistan can hold dialogue with the Taliban after 10 years of fighting; and if Iran can talk to its opponents and Tajikistan can speak to rivals why are the Afghan Taliban shy to sit with their own Afghans?” he asked rhetorically.
The development coincided with the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey trilateral summit in Ankara and some sources close to Mutasim Agha Jan said that he has also won some support in Pakistan for his movement.
“The Pakistani Taliban have now realised that they cannot achieve their objectives through fighting and have agreed to find a peaceful solution through dialogue,” he said.
He said that foreign troops are in Afghanistan due to the conflict among Afghans, adding that Afghans have been fighting for decades after the Soviets quit Afghanistan.
A senior Afghan leader had previously told The Express Tribune that if the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate failed to enter into dialogue with the US and Karzai government, then they would use the second option to encourage some of their leaders to join the intra-Afghan dialogue.
The Afghan Taliban have so far refused to talk to Karzai and insisted earlier to first settle issues with the US.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2014.
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