ISLAMABAD: The Taliban’s stance of not engaging in peace talks with the current Afghan government “remains unchanged” and the insurgent group has “nothing to do” with next week’s four-nation dialogue in Oman aimed at seeking a politically negotiated end to the war, according to a VOA report.
Negotiators from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are scheduled to meet in the Gulf state on October 16 this year to revive talks on encouraging the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and enhance regional anti-terrorism cooperation.
“Nobody has contacted us, nor are we participating in this meeting,” a senior Taliban official told VOA on the condition of anonymity when asked whether the group intends to join or approve the Quadrilateral Cooperation Group (QCG).
“Our stance on talks with the Kabul government remains unchanged. We have nothing to do with this meeting. It is their [member nations] own affair,” the official continued.
The Afghan Taliban have long refused to engage in any Afghan peace talks until the US and NATO forces completely withdraw from the war-torn country. The insurgents have also been calling for, among other demands, recognition for their political office in Qatar.
The QCG was launched in January 2016, but the peace process broke down after a fifth session in May of that year, when a US drone attack killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, while he was travelling through the province of Balochistan.
QCG members were supposed to use their respective influence on parties to the Afghan conflict to nudge the Taliban to the negotiating table; however, the Taliban’s reluctance to engage in peace talks, along with relations between Kabul and Islamabad being marred by mistrust, have been blamed for preventing any progress in previous QCG sessions.
Pakistan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that as a member of QCG, his country has always played the role of a facilitator along with China and the US to promote Afghan peace and reconciliation.
“Pakistan supports negotiated settlement of issues and national reconciliation in Afghanistan. We do not believe that military approach can bring peace in Afghanistan,” he told VOA.