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Ghani seeks clarification over Pakistan-Taliban relations

US supports pivotal role of Afghan government and people in ongoing peace process: US’s Khalizad

By Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: After lodging complaint to the UN over Taliban trip to Pakistan, President Ashraf Ghani has expressed disappointment and great concern over Pakistan-Taliban relations, seeking clarification over their nature of ties.  

He said this on Sunday late evening while meeting the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, just one day after the Taliban group called off meeting Pakistan Prime Minister aimed Kabul protests.

The Taliban negotiators are ready to hold talks in Pakistan but most of their members could not attend the meeting as their names are in US, and UN blacklist, the group said in a statement. 

President Ghani who just arrived from Munich Security Conference 2019, hosted Khailizad and other US embassy officials for dinner at Presidential Palace on Sunday night, where they discussed peace process.

“Thank you President Ashraf Ghani for hosting us for dinner last night, and bringing together important voices for peace,” Khalilzad said.

“There is a need for clarification in the nature of ties between Pakistan and Taliban group,” a statement issued by Presidential Palace quoted Ghani as saying.

“We want the Taliban group to clarify their nature of relations with Pakistan, and reciprocally from Pakistan. On what basis their relations are must be made public.”

Moreover, continued the Taliban relation with terrorists’ networks and criminal and unlawful entomic must also be cleared, President Ghani added.

Returns to peace talks brokered by US administration led by Khalilzad—a talk held several times in different countries without presence of Afghan government, Ghani said he has reached clearer harmony in key issues in peace process in recent days, where according to him more joint efforts requires to achieve a durable and respected peace.

He informed of an agreement reached with Khalilzad over a new and apparent working method, which in the framework, information would be shared and specific agendas would be consulted and decision would be made at the light consultation.

To clear overall image of ongoing peace talks, Ghani hinted toward Consultative Loya Jirga to be held at the end of March, similar a consultative session will be held soon by participation of women from 34 provinces in near future.

To lead the talks to success with new framework as a result all information of talks with Taliban would share with Afghan government, Khalilzad said he will go for it under new framework for achieving durable peace.   

Besides joint cooperation within Afghan government, Khalilzad said US’s goal is to speed up diplomatic efforts to bring a durable peace in Afghanistan to safe mutual interests in a bid to decrease war costs.

“We are serious over pivotal role of Afghan government and the people in peace process, and having favors such a durable peace to safeguards all values to leads ending the four decades of wars”.

Pointing toward regional’s role in the ongoing peace process, he said would search peace with aim to end the war, but that doesn’t mean every kind of peace is acceptable.

To make realize what kind of benefiter would regional countries get from a stable Afghanistan, Khalilzad said Afghanistan’s linkage to land and air corridors with other countries has revealed its capacity where regional countries could be benefited.

A stable Afghanistan could even benefit Pakistan, thus it must take practical step for peace, Khalilzad said assuring effort for region consensuses on peace mission.

There is no difference in mindset among Kabul and Washington officials, he said, putting all efforts for peace as mere-primary steps.

“Even progresses could be meager, but it is a point of hope, so we wish to have further progress in coordination with the Afghan government and its people.”

Khalilzad said they had discussed four key points with Taliban in each session; one, the nature of their relations with al-Qaeda; second, US troop’s presence; third, direct talks with Kabul administration, and the fourth nationwide truce.

He also welcomed government decision for convening Consultative Loya Jirga for peace.

Khalilzad also met with Afghanistan High Peace Council Secretariat and Special Envoy to President Ghani Umer Daudzai. “Consultative Loya Jirga is a meaningful opportunity to produce an inclusive, national negotiating team with consensus on positions” Khalilzad told him.

He also held talks with Afghan civil society leaders. “Women have been key drivers of progress over the last 17 years. Women’s voices must be heard, rights respected, and progress sustained. We stand with them, and their inclusion is essential to an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue,” he added.

Ghani’z call for clarification over Taliban, Pakistan relations had made when Taliban postponed meeting Pakistan Prime Minister scheduled for 18 February.

However, the announcement has strongly criticized by governmental and political figures of Afghanistan terming Islamabad talks risk peace talks.

Furthermore, Kabul administration, and political figures believe most of the Taliban officials are in Pakistan, but now under pretext of traveling to Pakistan is trying to show the world that they are not in Pakistan.

Soon after the news made headline, Afghanistan’s permanent envoy for the United Nations Adela Raz has said to the Sanction Committee of UN Security Council that the Pakistan government didn’t consult with the Afghan government over hosting the Taliban representatives in Islamabad.

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