Afghan Taliban Qatar Office confirms secret peace talks in Islamabad on Pakistan invitation

Afghan Taliban Qatar Office confirms secret peace talks in Islamabad on Pakistan invitation

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban political office in Qatar has confirmed that their five political negotiators from Qatar office traveled to Pakistan to discuss options for peace process.

A statement issued from the Taliban political office on Tuesday night said that the Taliban had always kept the option open for political process to “find out a durable and a real solution” to the Afghan problem.

The Pashto-language statement sent to the media said Pakistani government recently conveyed its desire to the Taliban political office that it wanted to “cooperate” in the political solution to the Afghan problem and to share its options with the Taliban political leaders.

“In view of Pakistan’s suggestion, the political office of the Islamic Emirate sent a five-member delegation to Pakistan for talks with the Pakistani officials,” the Taliban statement said.

Maulvi Shahabud Din Dilawar, Syed Rasool Haleem, Muhammad Suhail Shaheen, Jan Muhammad Madnai and Qari Deen Muhammad were members of the delegation, the statement said.

“The delegation shared its suggestions with the Pakistani side about the political solution to the Afghan conflict and also listened to the views of the Pakistani side. Later, the delegation informed leaders of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, about the details of its meetings with Pakistan, China, Qatar, and other countries,” the statement further said.

The Taliban political representatives will consider other options after they receive directives from senior leaders in Afghanistan.

The statement said Taliban were interested in a real solution to the Afghan problem so all reasons of the war are ended and Afghans live in peace and security. “We believe that only slogans and hollow promises cannot resolve the issue. It is the responsibility of all sides to pay attention to a durable and basic solution to the conflict,” the Taliban political office said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal had earlier refused to offer any comments when Daily Times reported the visit on January 15. The Taliban had landed in Pakistan amid growing US pressure on Pakistan and allegations by President Donald Trump and several other leaders that Pakistan “shelters the Taliban the Haqqani Network”.

However, the visit of the Taliban political envoys could be seen as Pakistan’s renewed efforts to push for political solution to the Afghan conflict at a time when the United States is focusing on military option. Besides Pakistan, regional stakeholders – China, Russia, Iran and Central Asian states — are pressing for political solution as the military solution in 16 years has not only failed bur Afghanistan is now facing worst security situation.

On Saturday, a group of Taliban bombers stormed the highly-secured Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing about two dozen people, mostly foreigners. The US officials have now confirmed several Americans were also among the dead.

Afghan security officials have been under fire since the deadliest Kabul attack, which once again exposed the fragile security in capital Kabul.

Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak had admitted that the attackers had inside support in the hotel. Sources privy to the visit of the Taliban political representatives insist the visit was part of the peace efforts started with the visit to Kabul by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa on October 1. General Bajwa had assured support for peace process in the war-shattered country, according to the officials in the meeting.

Pakistani officials had later sought the help of religious scholars to encourage the Taliban to give-up war and join the peace process. The same message was also conveyed to the Taliban political office in Qatar by Mullah Muhammad Abbas, a former Taliban minister.