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Taliban rejected peace talks, but why

By Mansoor Faizy-KABUL: The Taliban insurgents on Saturday rejected to take part in the direct peace talks with the Afghan government, unless their conditions were met. The militant group says it has not authorized anyone to attend negotiations brooked by Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States.

Withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan, exchange of prisoners and removal of its leaders names from the UN blacklist are the three major conditions. The group made it crystal clear that it would not give nod to any direct talks until their demands were addressed.

In a media statement issued here, the militant group said that the US was reviewing troop levels to deploy more soldiers in Afghanistan and carrying out airstrikes in different parts of the country, but kept the Taliban uninformed about meetings of the quadrilateral consultative group, comprising of Afghanistan, China, the United States and Pakistan.

The rejection follows efforts to revive talks that broke down last year following the announcement of the death of the Taliban’s founder and long-time leader Mullah Omar some two years earlier. Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor has not established any committee to engage in talks with the government, the statement added.

“At the same time rumors are being circulated that delegates of Islamic Emirate [Taliban] will be participating in the upcoming meetings with the permission of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor. We reject all such rumors and unequivocally state that the leader of Islamic Emirate has not authorized anyone to participate in this meeting and neither has the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate decided to partake in it,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the Taliban would not become part of the four-nation supported peace drive unless their conditions were met. The militant group said that it had already made its stance clear in this regard during the Pugwash conference.

Despite that, the Afghan National Unity Government is looking hopeful to the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban. Deputy spokesman for Afghan Chief Executive, Javid Faisal, said that though the Taliban rejected peace talks but still the government was hopeful for the resumption of talks with the Taliban.

The spokesman said the government considers peace talks as the sole remedy to the prolong war aimed at achieving the long-awaited desire of the Afghan people.

Recently, the United States President Barack Obama had also put his weight behind the Afghan peace process. During a video conference with President Ashraf Ghani, he pledged to support the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

The fourth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process was held in Kabul on February 23, 2016.

The QCG member states invited all Taliban and other groups to participate through their authorized representatives in the first round of direct peace talks with the Afghan government expected to take place in mid March, this year. Pakistan has graciously offered to host this round of talks in Islamabad. Unfortunately, despite Pakistan’s offer to hold first round of face-to-face talks, the Taliban rejected to participate.

Furthermore, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani he reiterated his country’s supports for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Moreover, the US Secretary of State John Kerry in a meeting with Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called on regional countries’ cooperation in bringing peace and security in Afghanistan. But what suddenly happened to these all efforts, and why the Taliban have rejected the talks while the QCG reached to the final stage to hold direct peace talks with them.

However, it would not be irrational to think that the Taliban’s decision to oppose direct talks was an overnight affair, rather there are third party playing games with them and had been waited for the right time to reject the talks through their tongue. It might be like one face with several tongues.

Taliban had no other option but to join the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process as during several meetings between Afghanistan and Pakistan officials, both sides agreed to take military action against those Taliban who are opposing the talks.

The US State Department called on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table, saying Afghanistan’s allies would continue to back the Kabul government as it fights the insurgency. “The Taliban have a choice: to join good-faith negotiations for peace, or continue to fight a war in which they are killing their fellow Afghans and destroying their own country,” it said in a statement. “If they choose the latter course, they will continue to face the combined efforts of the Afghan security forces and their international partners,” it said.

As soon as the Taliban understand that war is no longer a solution, it is better for them. They should not forget that Afghanistan and Pakistan come to an understanding that they would take military action against those Taliban who reject the talks.

There is a proverb, “A wise man changes his mind, a fool will never.” The Taliban should no more linger on their war as it brings nothing but devastation. Moreover, the people of Afghanistan and the government are quite relax despite rejection of talks by the Taliban, because this time situation is quit fair due to China’s involvement in the talks. If needed the government would seek military support from China to fight Taliban insurgents in the country.

When Chief of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Gen. Fang Fenghui, had recently paid visit to Kabul, Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar requested Beijing for military assistance. Atmar also welcomed the proposal of Fenghui that Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan, and Pakistan militaries should form a Joint Coordination Mechanism for regional security and fight against terrorism.

Atmar requested China’s COAS to provide military assistance including transport planes, mobile radars and military uniform to Afghanistan National and Defense Security Forces (ANDSF). Fang Fenghui reaffirmed his country’s commitment to help Afghanistan. The Taliban insurgents should shun violence and reintegrate into civil society by joining the Afghan peace process, because once regional countries joined hands to fighting them, they would find no place to hide.

The pen is mightier than the sword. The Taliban should convince people with ideas and words not by killing innocent peoples. They have only one way to hear their ideas and that’s to join the table of talks. Time is ripe for the Taliban to join peace talks before they loss every available resources. Still there is opportunity from them, and the Taliban insurgents should not forget one thing that opportunity never knocks twice.

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