10.07.2015 (19.04.1394)

Taliban’s talk with the Government: Official people without a mandate

Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen

Afghan writer and political Analyst based in Kabul

Dr. Naeem Wardak, the spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatar Office told Nunn.Asia that no one from the Taliban Political Office participated in the Islamabad peace talk.

Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted the email from Taliban Political Office that the participants in the Islamabad peace talks did not have authority to negotiate, these individuals were arrested by ISI, they, instead of making peace process better, worsening it.    

Taliban participants in peace negotiations

It is said that Mawlawi Abdullatif Mansoor, the former head of Taliban Political Commission, Haji Ibrahim, brother of Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Abbas Akhund, former Minister of Health in Taliban regime and present head of Taliban Health Commission were participated in the Islamabad peace talks.  

Both Mawlawi Abdullarif Mansoor and Mullah Abbas Akhund are well-known military and political figures in the Taliban lines, they, to a large extent, have power, and authority to make decisions. It would be good, if Haji Ibrahim was given authority by Mr. Haqqani; otherwise, he, previously, have had relations with the Afghan government in different situations.   

Taliban formal declaration

The type of the Taliban declaration has changed this time, Taliban, a day after peace negotiations started, have issued a declaration that does not reject the Islamabad peace talks clearly, however, if we study it precisely, it, somehow, agreed that Taliban members have authority to conduct such peace talks, it has said that the Taliban, for improvement and reform, brings changes in capacities of their authorities. The Political Office is responsible for the entire internal and external affairs; the Political Office has authority to have negotiations with every kind of domestic and foreign side wherever and whenever they want to.

Perhaps, the Taliban do not want to lose their members, those who had participated in negotiation with the Afghan government, would have done this job without the permission of the Taliban leadership, as like as they had a meeting in China’s Urumqi. Now, the Taliban would try to prevent the division among themselves and, calmly, make these under-pressured Taliban authorities understand to avoid participating in such meetings, that’s why they would have shown softness and ignorance in their formal declaration, however, the spokesman for the Political Commission, Dr. Naim, has rejected these negotiations.   

Face-to-Face Peace Talks

On July 7th, 2015, the media reported face-to-face peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban that had took place in beautiful city of Murree in nearness of Islamabad, President Ghani, for the first time, welcomed these face-to-face talks; moreover, the White House and United Nations had welcomed the peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, also.      

Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan that was in a visit to Norway, broadcasted a pre-recorded message on Pakistani TV and called the talks between the government and the Taliban, a good progress and development. 

The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, systematically, was providing the media with very undetailed information on these peace talks. 

The latest news from the Pakistan Foreign Ministry was that the both sides became agreed to continue these talks and they would have negotiations after Eid, also.

It seems that the Taliban that do not have the membership of Political Commission but have authority to negotiate would have told the representatives of Afghan government, in the peace negotiations that lasted for two hours, about their conditions and demands directly.

From several times, the Taliban were put pressure on to share their position with the Afghan government directly, most of the pressure was being put by Pakistan in order to accept their intercession and hold a face-to-face meeting with the Afghan government, furthermore, America was adamant to make the Taliban to have face-to-face talks with the Afghan government.

Besides that, the countries that have developments in relations with the Taliban on peace process like Qatar, China, Norway, Japan, Iran and Turkey would have requested the Taliban to present their conditions to the Afghan government directly in order for the International Community and the countries involved in peace process to know whether the Afghan government is ready to accept the Taliban conditions or not, and to learn about the biggest obstacles toward the peace.

It looks like Afghans who met the Taliban in Doha, Norway and Dubai also told the Taliban to raise their demands with the Afghan nation, the Afghan government and the international community directly.

There were some individuals in the Taliban lines that wished to present their demands to the Afghan government directly, and examine the government for their response to the Taliban demand on the withdrawal of foreign forces form Afghanistan.

What if the Taliban presented their former demands that the foreign forces should withdraw the country, the names of Taliban leaders should be removed from the Black List, the awards on Taliban leaders should be cancelled, the Qatar Office should be recognized officially, true struggles toward peace should be made and agreement on a government that would be acceptable to all Afghan should be made.

Considering the internal disagreements inside the government, taking care of Taliban demands would be beyond the authority of Afghan government, and the Afghan government would not be able to respond the Taliban on time and answer their demands positively. For this time, it was a good development that the representative of America and China were participated in this meeting. We, several times, said the great powers should take the peace process in their guarantee, let’s see how the Afghan government and America response to the Taliban demands.

The media has reported the provisional support of former President Karzai on recent peace negotiations, also.

Did the Taliban agree to have meeting or they were being put pressure on and obligated

There is a question that if the Taliban agreed to have this meeting on their own wish and if Pakistan played positive role in it, therefore, it was needed for some of members of the Taliban Political Office (the Qatar Office) to attend the Islamabad meeting and participate in face-to-face peace talks, because the Taliban have said, for the several times, that only their Political Commission (the Qatar Office) have the power and authority to conduct negotiations on peace.

If Pakistan provided the ground for negotiations on the wish of Taliban leader, in this case, it is needed for the Taliban to accept their participation in the peace negotiations, they have not accepted this thing clearly, and, however, this kind of uncertain and indescribable situation increases concerns, also. Nowadays, as everything gets clear very soon, and there is a huge number of media and sources that do not let the thing stay secret, however, the Islamabad peace talks are still tentative.

The source for peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban is Pakistani media only, everything comes out from Pakistani channels; the Afghan government, the Taliban, America and China do not express their views on this issue.

Such important face-to-face meeting that took place between the Taliban and the Afghan government, for the first time in last 14 years, were needed to be facilitated by the International Community and at least in accordance with regional principles; however, everything happened with hurry like having fun in entertaining town of Murree.

It was needed for the Afghan government, the Taliban and the Pakistani Foreign Ministry to release statements on face-to-face peace talks and their exact date and time before holding the meeting, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry was supposed to declare that it formally hosts this meeting, as like as the Norwegian Foreign Ministry was formally hosting the Taliban.

For such kind of peace talks, it was necessary to have Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, India, Central Asian countries and even Russia to be in the picture of these face-to-face peace talks.

It seems it is just an intelligence game, Pakistan wants to fool the Afghan government and international community, and it would have pressure on the Taliban that some of their low-level authorities should hold a normal meeting with the Afghan government.

Is Pakistan truthful in peace process?

If Pakistan is truthful in peace talks, we can call the Islamabad short and dull negotiations a good progress, but, if Pakistan just wants to show the Afghan government and the international community that it can make the Taliban to have peace talks and if a secret agreement was made with the Taliban to put heavy conditions, that are beyond the authority of Afghan government, for peace negations, then, we can say that Pakistan had followed its 10-years old policy on the peace process with a new shape.

Pakistan would have benefited a lot from the negotiations took place on July 7th, it would not have to prove their ability to the Afghan government that it can make the Taliban to have peace talks with them, they proved it in action, the Taliban would be disadvantaged from this process, the Taliban that they were always rejecting and avoiding having peace talks with the Afghan government as result of Pakistan’s intercession.     

Taliban were preparing for face-to-face peace talks

I believe that the Taliban are going to have peace talks, however, they are waiting for the permission of their leader Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid, he has not permitted them to have face-to-face negotiations with the Afghan government; so, how can we believe that the Islamabad meeting was held as a result of Taliban's own desire? 

Whenever, the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, permitted the Taliban Political Commission to have face-to-face talks with the Afghan government, then, the Taliban Political Commission would have to have a clear mechanic and policy on peace talks. The Afghan nation would believe in the Afghan government peace negotiations after the members of Taliban Political Commission (the Qatar Office) participate in face-to-face peace negotiations. The Taliban mentioned this point nearly in all of their statements that only the Taliban Political Commission has authority to conduct negotiations, at whatever time, the peace negotiations are officially rejected by the Political Office, there is still doubt in the Islamabad talks that whether if it is a seduction.   

We have mentioned in our articles, TV and radio discussions and interviews that the Doha’s PUGWASH Conference and the Norway and Dubai meetings slowly facilitate the ground for face-to-face talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, and that they, sometime, would have face-to-face talks.

According to my information, the Taliban wished to have talks with the new Afghan government, however, signing the BSA with America and interference of Pakistan delayed this process for almost 9 months.

Hekmat Karzai had a meeting with representatives of the Taliban’s Qatar Office before Ashraf Ghani takes power, he became familiar with them, had talks on death of Hashmat Karzai with the Taliban, which the Taliban, recently, had rejected having hand in the death of his brother. 

Also, Hekmat Karzai had participated in the Norway Conference; several times, grounds for having meetings with involved sides are facilities in such conferences, perhaps, Hekmat Karzai would had met the Taliban delegation in Norway and would had informal talks on peace with them.

Participation of Hekmat Karzai instead of other Afghan high-ranking officials in this round of peace talks would have two reasons, first that he is familiar with the individuals from Qatar Office, to see whether the Taliban delegation is able to do representation or not, and whether there are individuals from the Qatar Office participated in the meeting or not?

The other reason might be, as there were low-level officials participated on behalf of the Taliban in this meeting, so the Afghan government sent rather low-level authorities to this meeting, also.   

We hope that the Taliban Political Commission and the Afghan government share the entire secret talks in peace process with the Afghan nation in a proper time, and that the both sides should try to not become victim of intelligence war, instead of that, they should think of solutions that can bring peace.

Since a few months the Taliban were trying the ground for face-to-face talks to be facilitated, firstly, the people and Taliban fighters should be prepared mentally for face-to-face peace talks and then the direct peace negotiations should be started with the Afghan government. Pakistan, benefiting the opportunity, hurried and faced this plan of the Taliban with obstacles and delay, furthermore, the Afghan government was distrust on its high-level officials that had secret and obvious relations with the Taliban and were holding meetings with them, it is the reason behind such an urgent and uncritical meeting without a prelude that held as a result of intercession of Pakistan with an urgent and immature way.

According to information, distance between Pakistan and the Taliban members of Qatar Office is increasing day by day, at all, the pressure of Pakistan has made the Taliban to withdraw Pakistan; it is said, the Taliban have told Pakistan that they will not stay in its soil anymore, they will withdraw from this country, and they do not have to suffer the pressure of Pakistan and accept its demands, anymore.

Afghan government should resolve internal disagreements on peace process inside the government 

It is needed for the Afghan government to resolve the domestic disagreements on peace process with the former President Karzai’s team, the CEO, Abdullah Abdullah and the North Coalition at all, the deputy CEO, Muhaqiq and the First Vice President, Dostum; and instead of various ideas, it should have one clear policy and idea on peace process, then.

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