Mulla Omar’s endorsement

Enterprise - - Contents -

As a mat­ter of record, the pos­si­bil­ity of Afghan peace par­leys ever achiev­ing a break­through has os­cil­lated be­tween hope and de­spair - but no more. In the wake of a meet­ing be­tween the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Afghan gov­ern­ment and a Tal­iban del­e­ga­tion held in Mur­ree on July 7 the bal­ance seems to have tilted in favour of hope. This two-day con­clave at the hill sta­tion was any­thing but the usual - not only for the first time the meet­ing was pub­licly ac­knowl­edged by both sides, par­tic­i­pated by po­ten­tial guar­an­tors of faith­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of agreed un­der­stand­ings and whole­heart­edly en­dorsed by the Tal­iban move­ment chief Mulla Omar but also clinched a de­ci­sion to meet again af­ter Ra­mazan. If war-wari­ness has taken the toll and the Afghans across the na­tional di­vide want to beat their swords into ploughshares that may be the case.

But more than that what ap­pears to have kick-started a con­struc­tive en­gage­ment be­tween Tal­iban and Afghan Unity Gov­ern­ment is the shared re­al­i­sa­tion that a vic­tory of one over the rest is out of ques­tion. And no less a gamechanger is the re­asser­tion of Afghan na­tion­al­is­tic mind to take back the space sur­ren­dered to the ide­o­logues, whose latest ap­pear­ance in the garb of self­styled Is­lamic State doesn’t sit well with so­cio-cul­tural ethos of Afghan masses, as re­flected by Mulla Omar’s Eid mes­sage to Tal­iban.

In that mes­sage he has cau­tioned not to be taken in by “no­to­ri­ous fig­ures of our so­ci­ety, mer­ce­nary forces trained by for­eign in­tel­li­gence agen­cies”. And wel­com­ing the Mur­ree peace talks he has un­der­scored the im­per­a­tive of unity among the rank and file of Tal­iban. Talks with Kabul rulers, he says, are “le­git­i­mate” and an “in­te­gral part of prophetic pol­i­tics”. “As our holy leader, the beloved Prophet (Peace and Bless­ing Be Upon Him) was ac­tively en­gaged in fight­ing the in­fi­dels in the fields of ‘Badr and Khy­ber, he si­mul­ta­ne­ously par­tic­i­pated in agree­ments ben­e­fi­cial for Mus­lims, held meet­ings with en­voys of in­fi­dels, sent mes­sages and del­e­ga­tions to them and on var­i­ous oc­ca­sions even un­der­took face-to-face talks with war­ring in­fi­dels”. That had not hap­pened be­fore.

The endorsement of the Mur­ree talks by Mulla Omar is crit­i­cal in­deed. But no less crit­i­cal is the am­bi­ence that tends to ob­tain now for con­tin­u­a­tion of peace talks, and, hope­fully, their con­clu­sion on a pos­i­tive note. First and fore­most, the Afghan del­e­ga­tion to the Mur­ree par­leys was fully man­dated by the Tal­iban lead­er­ship and its com­po­si­tion aptly rep­re­sented al­most all im­por­tant groups in that move­ment - most sig­nif­i­cant be­ing the in­clu­sion of Ebrahim Haqqani who is an un­cle of the group’s chief, Si­ra­jud­din Haqqani.

On the op­po­site side of the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble were rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ghani-Ab­dul­lah gov­ern­ment but also in­de­pen­dent-minded mem­bers of the Afghan civil so­ci­ety and par­lia­ment. Thirdly, the Mur­ree talks had bless­ings of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the United States, China and the United Na­tions. And lastly, the talks ma­te­ri­al­ized un­der Pak­istan’s per­sua­sive in­flu­ence with Tal­iban and its neu­tral cre­den­tials in Kabul - thanks to the Army Chief Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif’s per­sonal diplo­macy.

Though the Mur­ree meet­ing had no agenda on the ta­ble, the dis­cus­sions do set the agenda for next meet­ing which may take place in Is­lam­abad, Urumqi or Doha. In­di­ca­tions are that the Afghan gov­ern­ment is open to dis­cuss Tal­iban de­mand for amend­ments in the con­sti­tu­tion, dele­tion of names of Tal­iban lead­ers from the UN ‘black list’ and re­lease of Tal­iban lead­ers. How­ever, it is not pre­pared for any con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment which may com­pro­mise process as en­vis­aged. But that said the chal­lenges to the con­tin­u­a­tion of the peace par­leys can­not be triv­i­alised. There are spoil­ers in and around Afghanistan, who would spare no ef­fort to de­rail this process. They can be open and in sight as the Is­lamic State, which has a foot­print in Afghanistan with some fac­tions of Afghan Tal­iban be­ing its foot sol­diers, and mer­ce­nar­ies trained by for­eign in­tel­li­gence agen­cies as pointed out by Mulla Omar. To walk the talk one es­sen­tial pre­con­di­tion is cease-fire and re­lease of war pris­on­ers; and cer­tainly a for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge. If met coura­geously it would greatly help the Afghan par­tic­i­pants and their in­ter­locu­tors to ar­rive at the com­mon ground.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.