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Afghanistan asks Pakistan to compel Taliban for talks or shut their centers

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: A senior Afghan official asked Pakistani government to either pressure Taliban for the peace talks or close their facilities and bases in the Pakistan soil.

“We expect Pakistan to sit Taliban down with us. Otherwise, Islamabad should close the infrastructures of the group based in Pakistan, because Sartaj Aziz, the national security adviser for Pakistan’s prime minister has acknowledged that Taliban’s leadership reside in Pakistan,” Deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai said on Monday.

“Taliban’s Pakistan-based safe sanctuaries, health facilities and madrasas (seminaries) which enable the militant group to conduct terrorist attacks, should be shut down,” Karzai told reporters.

He went on with an example that Pakistani media had reported that a Taliban leader Mullah Rasoul was captured in Pakistan. “What was he doing in Pakistan? If they (Pakistani officials) can capture Mullah Rasoul, why can’t they capture the other individuals, the most important elements of the structure, the most important elements of the Quetta shura?”

“We also understand that Pakistan may have a certain limitation, but most importantly we need to be friends and sincere with each other. I think for all parts we have done and we expect the other side [Pakistan] to do same,” the senior diplomat insisted.

Pointing to the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) meetings, Karzai said that negotiation was not an event, it was a process and everyone had to support peace, because it was not only government’s responsibility.

Mr. Karzai said that each of the Group’s four-member nations had specific responsibilities to do in peace efforts.

The quadrilateral cooperation group agreed that in the first week of March, Pakistan would host direct meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban representatives.

“We were convinced by Pakistan and we were optimistic about this meeting, but it seems that the assurance that we were given has not been met,” he asserted.

He said that Kabul was in regular contacts with the “colleagues and friends”.

“We are going to reach out to our American and Chinese friends about how we need to proceed, because it seems the first time the QCG on paper has made extensive progress, but now when comes to delivery, all four countries particularly our neighbors need to deliver,” Karzai added.

Farhadullah Farhad, a member of the high peace council said that the government was working with the people and Ulema (clerics) to demonstrate the illegitimacy of the conflict.

“We will work on public participation and are backing the quadrilateral group,” Farhad said.

He highlighted that the council would keep calling on the opposition groups to lay down weapons and join political dialogues. ”Any settlement that comes through political dialogues will have sustainability and will ensure justice.”

He emphasized that peace and security in Afghanistan meant peace and security in the region, and a stable Afghanistan was in favor of everybody.

“The doors of the peace council will be open for the opposition to join reconciliation process,” he said. “We are ready to talk with them. We are in serious discussions with the Hizb-e-Islami Hekmatyar (Islamic Party) delegation in Kabul.

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