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Second round of peace talks: HPC clueless on next venue

“Without Pakistan’s green signal we can do nothing. We are waiting for Islamabad’s decision about venue for second round of the talks,”—High Peace Council

Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: An official of the High Peace Council (HPC) on Monday said that they have no information about the new venue where second round of direct peace talks would be held.

Responding to a question about venue for the second round of talks, a senior official of the HPC on the condition of anonymity as the government barred the council from interacting with media on the issue, said that decision about venue would be taken by Pakistani authorities.

“Pakistani authorities will send a letter about the peace talks’ venue to Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MoFA] of Afghanistan. The foreign ministry will then inform us [High Peace Council]. Without Pakistan’s green signal we can do nothing. It is Pakistan that will tell where the talks will take place and who will represent the Taliban,” he said.

Recently, the Express Tribune reported that second round of the peace talks between Afghan government’s representatives and the Taliban leaders would be held in Pakistan.

“I can confirm the second round of the Afghan peace talks will be held in Pakistan,” the Express Tribune quoted a Pakistani security official.

Earlier, the High Peace Council said the second round probably would take place in Urumqi, China.

A few days ago, senior member of the HPC, Ismail Qasimyar, told media that the second round of peace parleys would likely be held in China. Now the peace council is itself confused and don’t know how to respond to a range of queries asked by news reporters.

Talking to Afghanistan Times, Ismail Qasimyar said that Islamabad is facilitating the peace talks. Therefore, the Afghan government is waiting for Pakistan’s decision, he said, while did not elaborate that why the HPC earlier hinted China as venue for the second round.

Political affairs experts are concerned over influence of Pakistan on the Afghan peace process. They believe that Islamabad is driving the reconciliation process in a direction that best suits Pakistani military establishment rather than Afghanistan.

Former Chief of the National Directorate of Security, Amrullah Saleh, has said on Facebook that Afghanistan’s enemy’s plot is to “entertain and deceive” Afghani officials in the peace process.

Most likely speaking about Pakistan, he said the enemy wants to invest on the Afghan conflict, insecurity, killing and expansion of terrorism in Afghanistan.

Saleh said that Afghan security forces are the national capital and defenders of the nation and honor of Afghanistan. “Therefore, political leaders shall strengthen the Afghan National Security Forces to foil the enemy’s plots,” he advised the government.

Addressing a gathering organized by the Rana Think Tank a few days ago, he said that Islamabad does not want to give dignified peace to Afghans.

Commenting on the recent direct talks between Afghan government and the Taliban in Murree, he said the reconciliation process would not be successful as Islamabad was controlling the process. He said that Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan was not based on sincerity but on deception.

“Islamabad wants to help the Taliban to enter into the advanced stalemate against Afghan government. To do so, Pakistan wants to support insurgency in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants to protect the Taliban as its armed group. Current peace process is mostly about ceasefire rather than durable peace,” he opined.

Saleh said that this strategy of the Pakistani military establishment is against the pledges they made about the peace talks.

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