South Asia and Beyond

Taliban Negotiators In Pakistan To Consult Leadership: Source

 Taliban Negotiators In Pakistan To Consult Leadership: Source

Taliban’s chief negotiator Mawlavi Abdul Hakim has travelled to Pakistan from Doha to consult and seek guidance from Taliban leadership and find out whether the delay in the withdrawal of U.S. forces will lead to a halt in the talks and Istanbul conference or if there are other ways to proceed, sources close to the have group.

Referring to the trip, Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said that the Taliban’s delegation visited Pakistan to seek guidance from Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. “Whenever there is a stalemate in the talks in Qatar, they (Taliban) say we are going to consult our elders, in reality, it means we are going to seek suggestions from the ISI and the {Pakistani} army,” said Saleh.

“Now is the time for Pakistan to choose either a win-win policy or a lose-lose policy,” said President Ashraf Ghani during a trip to the southern Kandahar province.

The Taliban recently said the extension of U.S. troops in the country was a reason for their non-participation at the Turkey conference. “The U.S. acted in contrast to the Doha agreement, now the Taliban need to consult their elders, I know that they have gone to Pakistan,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.

This comes a day after the U.S.-backed Afghan peace conference in Turkey was postponed because of non-participation by the Taliban.

The conference was scheduled for April 24 and was expected to see inclusive participation from parties to the Afghan conflict.

“We have consulted with Qatar, the U.S. and the UN,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday. “We have decided to postpone the Istanbul Conference on the Afghanistan peace process after Eid al-Fitr.”

“Until now we have not witnessed any positive outcome of Taliban’s consultation with Pakistan,” said Mohammad Omar Daudzai, President Ghani’s special envoy for Pakistan.

“There is no doubt, the role of regional countries is quite important in this issue,” said Sayed Saadat Mansour Nadery, the State Minister on Peace Affairs.

A meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan will take place today in Istanbul, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Thursday. “Along with recent developments regarding the Afghan peace process, cooperation in the fields of security, energy, connectivity and irregular migration will be discussed during the trilateral meeting,” it said.

“On the margins of the meeting, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will also hold bilateral meetings with his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts,” it added.

UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons on Thursday concluded several days of consultations in Doha with Afghan parties and international partners about “the best way forward to strengthen and add impetus to intra-Afghan peace negotiations,” UNAMA tweeted on Thursday.

“There will be no pause in work to support Afghan peace negotiations. The UN is continuing its engagement with both the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Taliban representatives, to maintain a focus on peace efforts and the path to a just and durable peace settlement,” it said.

The statement said that the Istanbul Conference postponement provides another opportunity for the Afghan parties to demonstrate progress in the current Doha Afghan peace negotiations.

The US, Turkey, Qatar and UN have reportedly attempted to convince the Taliban to attend the planned meeting in Turkey. But the group has insisted that the US first needs to implement the Doha agreement before the start of the Istanbul conference, meaning that the U.S. needs to honor its agreement signed under the Trump administration to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1.

On Tuesday, the Taliban reportedly asked the U.S. to ensure the release of its prisoners and the removal of UN sanctions on Taliban leaders in exchange for the participation of the group in the Turkey conference, sources close to the group told Tolo News.

The Afghan government on Tuesday said the list of a republic delegation for the conference has been finalised. A high-level Afghan government official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Tolo News that there is the possibility that a 15- or 17-member team will represent the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the conference whenever it’s held.

(By arrangement with Tolo News)

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