What happens in Kabul...: Afghans want direct talks with Taliban hiding in Pak: Ahmad Rashid

Barnett Rubin, Aziz Ahmed Khan, Afghan Ambassador Janan Mosazai address session.


Sarah Eleazar February 21, 2015
Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai said that the two countries had shared assessments of threats and opportunities and there was great convergence. PHOTO:INP

LAHORE: What the Afghan government has been saying for the last six months is: “we will go after the Pakistani Taliban hiding in the border provinces of Afghanistan, we hand them over to Pakistan. All we want in return is direct talks with the Afghan Taliban leadership in Pakistan”, Ahmad Rashid said at an afternoon session at the Lahore Literary Festival on Saturday.

The session: What Happens in Kabul Stays in Kabul featured Rashid, author of Taliban: The Power of Militant Islam in Afghanistan and Beyond, academic Barnett Rubin and Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan Aziz Ahmed Khan. BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet moderated the session.

“As Afghanistan weans itself from America in the coming years, the entire region is looking towards Pakistan to take a definitive approach towards the dialogue between the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul government,” Rashid said.

“Afghan President Ghani has the onerous task handed to him and is running out of time – domestically he is facing enormous pressure from the Northern Alliance and his rival Abdullah Abdullah. He needs to deliver fast on the strategic dialogue. But Pakistan is dillydallying,” he said.

“As it is, the Afghan Taliban leadership is deeply embedded in Pakistani society. All we have to do is to enable them to enter into negotiations with the Afghan government,” he said.

He said the peace process in Qatar had been the initiative of Mullah Omar. “Unfortunately, various stakeholders, including the then president Karzai and the American government, scuttled the process,” he said.

Khan said: “I feel that the Afghan Taliban have a mind of their own. Mullah Omer’s leadership is firm and central. The Taliban will enter talks once they feel they no longer have the same space to manouvre as they did in the past – this places the onus of the process with the Afghan government.”

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai said that the two countries had shared assessments of threats and opportunities and there was great convergence.

“Of course, there are spoilers to the peace process, but it is our job to ensure that the process ends what it has begun,” he said.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan’s security is indivisible. Their economic development, too, is linked. Afghanistan cannot conceive its security and prosperity without looking towards the same in Pakistan,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2015.

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