Pak­istan wants all Tal­iban groups to join talks

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

Pak­istan said as many Tal­iban groups as pos­si­ble must be per­suaded to join any up­com­ing peace dis­cus­sions with the Afghan govern­ment, as a third round of four-coun­try talks aimed at re­viv­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the in­sur­gent group be­gan Satur­day.

Del­e­gates from Afghanistan, Pak­istan, China and the United States con­vened in the Pak­istani cap­i­tal Is­lam­abad over the week­end even as the in­sur­gents wage an un­prece­dented win­ter cam­paign of vi­o­lence across Afghanistan.

Pak­istan's ad­vi­sor for for­eign affairs Sar­taj Aziz said a joint ef­fort would help per­suade the Tal­iban to join the process and lead to a "sig­nif­i­cant "re­duc­tion in vi­o­lence. "We be­lieve our col­lec­tive ef­forts at this stage, in­clud­ing through sup­port­ive CBMs (Con­fi­dence Build­ing Mea­sures), have to be aimed at per­suad­ing the max­i­mum num­ber of Tal­iban groups to join the peace talks," Aziz said dur­ing his open­ing state­ment at the third-round of talks on Satur­day.

"In our view, a clear, well-de­fined and ac­tion­able roadmap for the peace process be­tween the Afghan Govern­ment and Tal­iban groups is im­por­tant." Sar­taj Aziz,said there should be no pre­con­di­tions to ne­go­ti­a­tions yet the Tal­iban have al­ready said they would not hold di­rect talks with the Afghan govern­ment un­til they first held talks with US of­fi­cials. Pre­vi­ous rounds of the four-coun­try talks have ended with a prom­ise to meet again but Aziz said this time he wants to see the roadmap to peace emerge by the end of to­day's meet­ing.

Kabul too ex­pressed its ea­ger­ness for re­sults. "We are des­per­ately wait­ing to see the im­me­di­ate ef­fects and re­sults of our quadri­lat­eral meet­ings and the progress we have made in the two pre­vi­ous meet­ings," Javed Faisal, deputy spokesman for Afghanistan's Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Ab­dul­lah Ab­dul­lah, told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

A diplo­mat at­tend­ing the peace talks said one of the big­gest bumps on the road to peace is iden­ti­fy­ing those Tal­iban who aren't in­ter­ested in peace or with whom the Afghan govern­ment con­sid­ers "ir­rec­on­cil­able". An­other chal­lenge is com­ing up with a set of con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures that will be good enough to lure Tal­iban to the ta­ble. The diplo­mat asked that nei­ther his name nor na­tion­al­ity be used be­cause he was not au­tho­rised to talk to the me­dia.

Aziz ex­pressed an­noy­ance dur­ing the first round of talks held last month when Faisal is­sued pub­lic state­ments say­ing Pak­istan was to pro­duce a list of Tal­iban rep­re­sen­ta­tives will­ing to talk peace.

The list never ma­te­ri­alised and Aziz chas­tened of­fi­cials par­tic­i­pat­ing in the talks about speak­ing to the me­dia. Aziz said what­ever roadmap the four-coun­try meet­ing agrees upon, it will have to clearly lay out each phase of what is cer­tain to be a multi-phase process. He said there also has to be a way to gauge progress "We be­lieve our col­lec­tive ef­forts at this stage … have to be aimed at the per­suad­ing max­i­mum num­ber of Tal­iban groups to join the peace talks," said Aziz. "This will con­trib­ute to im­part­ing a mo­men­tum to the process of­fer­ing the in­cen­tive of political main­stream­ing to the in­sur­gent groups, and grad­u­ally shrink the space for the ir­rec­on­cil­ables."

The first round of the roadmap talks was held in Is­lam­abad last month, where del­e­gates be­gan lay­ing the ground­work for di­rect di­a­logue be­tween Kabul and the Is­lamist group. A se­cond round was held in Kabul on Jan­uary 18 which urged the Tal­iban groups to en­ter into early talks with the Afghan govern­ment with­out pre­con­di­tions.

Tal­iban rep­re­sen­ta­tives have been no­tably ab­sent dur­ing the process and an­a­lysts cau­tion that any sub­stan­tive talks are still a long way off. The Tal­iban has stepped up at­tacks on govern­ment and for­eign tar­gets in Afghanistan this win­ter, when fight­ing usu­ally abates, un­der­scor­ing a wors­en­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion. Ob­servers say the in­ten­si­fy­ing in­sur­gency high­lights a push by the mil­i­tants to seize more ter­ri­tory in an at­tempt to wran­gle greater con­ces­sions dur­ing talks.

Pak­istan - the Tal­iban's his­toric back­ers - hosted a mile­stone first round of talks di­rectly with the Tal­iban in July last year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.