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Crisis with India can have unintended impact on Afghan peace process: Maleeha

NEW YORK: The ongoing crisis with India means that Pakistan’s full focus has to be on its eastern frontier and that has implications for the nascent Afghan peace process, Pakistan’s Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said.
Although she stopped short of saying this would affect Pakistans role in the process, her message was clear that the shift in focus could have that unintended results.
Our attention is going to be where we feel there is a military threat to us,” Ambassador Lodhi said in response to a question about the possible impact of the simmering India-Pakistan tensions stemming from the Kashmir dispute.Qatar offers mediation to de-escalate tensions between Pak, IndiaThat ongoing threat, she clarified, was from India.
The latest round of Afghan peace talks is taking place in Doha, Qatar, between Zalmay Khalilzad, the American special envoy, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader, who for the first time is taking a more direct role in the process.“Both (Afghanistan) and (Kashmir) issues are important in their own right.
But it is the eastern border, from where India attacked Pakistan. They sent planes into our territory.That’s a hot border,” the envoy added.“Afghanistan is a different situation.We would like that war to end. But we don’t perceive a threat from our western border.
It’s our eastern border from where we continue to perceive a threat.“We are in the midst of a very tense situation, a very fraught situation,” the Pakistani envoy continued.The Indian leadership is failing to respond to Prime Minister Imran Khans repeated gestures (for peace), which included freeing and releasing the Indian pilot.”The turmoil in Kashmir escalated on February 14, after a suicide bombing killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir.Pakistan categorically denied any involvement and offered to investigate, but India still went ahead and dropped bombs inside Pakistani territory.We kept asking the Indians to give us what you have and we will act on it, Ambassador Lodhi said, adding that only couple of days ago, the so-called dossier has been handed over Pakistan.Theresa May lauds PM Imran’s peace overtures amid Pak-India tensionsWe are examining that dossier to see if there is anything there on which we need to act, and we will act if there is any solid evidence, but we cannot act on the basis of allegations, she said.Replying to a question about Kashmir, the Pakistani envoy said the dispute has been there for the past 70 years.
“It has to be addressed, in its own right and (on) its own merits because it will remain an issue that will lead to repeated tensions between India and Pakistan and in any case, it is an issue that is on the Security Council agenda and it has resolutions that remain unimplemented.

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Afghan Taliban, US suspend talks for two days

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban and American officials on Thursday suspended the peace talks for two days and agreed to resume negotiations from Saturday after they failed to evolve consensus on two major issues – US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and US Special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation confirmed suspension of talks for two days.
Taliban sources in Qatar, however, said the talks were suspended for two days after the US negotiation team allegedly deviated from the two main topics and started discussing other irrelevant issues and pressed to declare on ceasefire. They said there was a deadlock in talks and this was the reason the process was suspended for two days.
This issue is not that much simple to be resolved within two or three rounds of talks. We were told to discuss two major issues US withdrawal from Afghanistan and our commitment not to let our soil to be used against any country and particularly the US and its allies after we reached an agreement, said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban.However, he stated that the US delegation members deliberately’ deviated from the main agenda and started asking questions about the future government in Afghanistan, women rights and Taliban relations with the international community. Some of the Taliban representatives had adopted a very simple approach towards peace talks and wanted to find a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict but unfortunately that does not seem to be easy, the Taliban leader argued.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said: Amid the ongoing talks between the negotiation teams of Islamic Emirate and United States in the Qatari capital of Doha, extensive discussions were held about the method of foreign troops’ withdrawal from Tuesday till Wednesday noon and from that time onwards, discussion revolved around preventing Afghanistan from being used against others.He said the meeting ended on Wednesday night, as both negotiation teams agreed to take a break today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) for consultations and preparation for the third meeting which shall be held on Saturday.
According to Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban’s head of the Political Commission, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held a meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad, the top NATO commander General Scott Miller and senior Qatar government officials including deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Rahman al-Thani and National Security Advisor Mohammad al-Masnad.Taliban sources said Mulla Baradar informed them about Taliban’s priorities and explained to them that they would continue to demand the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan.Taliban said they had already explained their position about militant groups in Afghanistan such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying no foreign militant group would be allowed to operate independently or use their soil against any other country.Zabihullah Mujahid said Mulla Baradar emphasized Taliban commitment to the current peace process and their struggle for peace and establishment of an Islamic system of government in Afghanistan.
Taliban sources said they had already maintained that al-Qaeda members who pleaded allegiance to their supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada would not be asked to leave Afghanistan.They would need to live in Afghanistan and obey the Afghan constitution but would never run any militant group or use the Afghan soil against any other country.As for the ISIS or Daesh, we have nothing to do with it and would not allow it to create any law and order situation in the country if we came into power, said the Taliban leader.He said their talks with US had been practically suspended due to the deadlock and now the two sides would discuss the future line of action with their respective leadership.
Americans and particularly Zalmay Khalilzad during the talks demanded the Taliban to declare a ceasefire before the launch of Taliban’s proposed spring offensive, fearing that it would escalate fighting and attacks against foreign and Afghan forces. They repeatedly asked for ceasefire and our representatives constantly said No’ to them, said a Taliban leader privy to the peace talks in Doha.He said Taliban Rahbari Shura, the top decision-making Leadership Council, is expected to be approached and informed about the present deadlock in peace talks.We had agreed with Americans that irrelevant issues would be discussed later once we develop consensus on US withdrawal and our commitment to keep Afghanistan a peaceful country not posing threat to any country.But they started debating other issues that created a deadlock in talks, said the Taliban leader.Taliban and US representatives resumed the peace negotiations in Doha on February 25.
They were supposed to discuss the draft framework for US forces’ withdrawal and Taliban pledge to prevent Afghan soil from being used against other countries.The path to peace doesn’t often run in a straight line.
The situation in Afghanistan is complex and like all sensitive talks, not everything is conducted in public. We made significant progress on two vital issues: counter terrorism and troop withdrawal.That doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re not even finished with these issues yet, and there is still work to be done on other vital issues like intra-Afghan dialogue and a complete ceasefire, he explained.He added that skeptics have rushed to judgment based on just the first part of a much larger effort as though they have a completed agreement.But you can’t eat an elephant in one bite! And a forty year old war won’t be resolved in one meeting, even if that meeting runs for close to a week, said Khalilzad, a seasoned diplomat.He said it was a moment for the Afghans to begin to heal old wounds and chart a new course for their country.PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban and American officials on Thursday suspended the peace talks for two days and agreed to resume negotiations from Saturday after they failed to evolve consensus on two major issues – US withdrawal from Afghanistan and Taliban’s pledge of preventing their soil from being used by the militant groups in future against the United States and its allies.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and US Special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation confirmed suspension of talks for two days. Taliban sources in Qatar, however, said the talks were suspended for two days after the US negotiation team allegedly deviated from the two main topics and started discussing other “irrelevant” issues and pressed to declare on ceasefire.They said there was a deadlock in talks and this was the reason the process was suspended for two days.“This issue is not that much simple to be resolved within two or three rounds of talks.We were told to discuss two major issues – US withdrawal from Afghanistan and our commitment not to let our soil to be used against any country and particularly the US and its allies after we reached an agreement,” said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban.However, he stated that the US delegation members ‘deliberately’ deviated from the main agenda and started asking questions about the future government in Afghanistan, women rights and Taliban relations with the international community.
“Some of the Taliban representatives had adopted a very simple approach towards peace talks and wanted to find a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict but unfortunately that does not seem to be easy,” the Taliban leader argued.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said: “Amid the ongoing talks between the negotiation teams of Islamic Emirate and United States in the Qatari capital of Doha, extensive discussions were held about the method of foreign troops’ withdrawal from Tuesday till Wednesday noon and from that time onwards, discussion revolved around preventing Afghanistan from being used against others.”He said the meeting ended on Wednesday night, “as both negotiation teams agreed to take a break today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) for consultations and preparation for the third meeting which shall be held on Saturday.”According to Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban’s head of the Political Commission, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held a meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad, the top NATO commander General Scott Miller and senior Qatar government officials including deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Rahman al-Thani and National Security Advisor Mohammad al-Masnad.
Taliban sources said Mulla Baradar informed them about Taliban’s priorities and explained to them that they would continue to demand the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan.Taliban said they had already explained their position about militant groups in Afghanistan such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying no foreign militant group would be allowed to operate independently or use their soil against any other country.
Zabihullah Mujahid said Mulla Baradar emphasized Taliban commitment to the current peace process and their struggle for peace and establishment of an Islamic system of government in Afghanistan.Taliban sources said they had already maintained that al-Qaeda members who pleaded allegiance to their supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada would not be asked to leave Afghanistan.
“They would need to live in Afghanistan and obey the Afghan constitution but would never run any militant group or use the Afghan soil against any other country. As for the ISIS or Daesh, we have nothing to do with it and would not allow it to create any law and order situation in the country if we came into power,” said the Taliban leader.He said their talks with US had been practically suspended due to the deadlock and now the two sides would discuss the future line of action with their respective leadership.“Americans and particularly Zalmay Khalilzad during the talks demanded the Taliban to declare a ceasefire before the launch of Taliban’s proposed spring offensive, fearing that it would escalate fighting and attacks against foreign and Afghan forces.
They repeatedly asked for ceasefire and our representatives constantly said ‘No’ to them,” said a Taliban leader privy to the peace talks in Doha.He said Taliban Rahbari Shura, the top decision-making Leadership Council, is expected to be approached and informed about the present deadlock in peace talks.
“We had agreed with Americans that irrelevant issues would be discussed later once we develop consensus on US withdrawal and our commitment to keep Afghanistan a peaceful country not posing threat to any country. But they started debating other issues that created a deadlock in talks,” said the Taliban leader.
Taliban and US representatives resumed the peace negotiations in Doha on February 25. They were supposed to discuss the draft framework for US forces’ withdrawal and Taliban pledge to prevent Afghan soil from being used against other countries.
“The path to peace doesn’t often run in a straight line. The situation in Afghanistan is complex and like all sensitive talks, not everything is conducted in public.
We made significant progress on two vital issues: counter terrorism and troop withdrawal. That doesn’t mean we’re done.
We’re not even finished with these issues yet, and there is still work to be done on other vital issues like intra-Afghan dialogue and a complete ceasefire,” he explained.He added that skeptics have rushed to judgment based on just the first part of a much larger effort as though they have a completed agreement.
“But you can’t eat an elephant in one bite! And a forty year old war won’t be resolved in one meeting, even if that meeting runs for close to a week,” said Khalilzad, a seasoned diplomat.He said it was a moment for the Afghans to begin to heal old wounds and chart a new course for their country.

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Talks with Taliban in Doha productive: US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday said the latest talks with Taliban in Doha were “productive”. Khalilzad met with the Taliban’s top political leader in Doha starting Monday, in what is believed to be the highest level engagement between Khalilzad met with the Taliban’s top political leader in Doha starting Monday, in what is believed to be the highest level engagement between the US and the Taliban since the months-long peace push began.
Khalilzad had on February 25 tweeted that he and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had held a “working lunch” ahead of a fresh round of talks with the insurgent group as the US seeks a way out of its longest war.”Both sides will take the next two days for internal deliberations, with plans to regroup on Saturday.
All four key issues remain on the table,” he added.In another tweet, Khalilzad said, “As talks continue in Doha, there is also progress on forming a national team in Kabul ready to engage in intra-Afghan dialogue and talks with the Taliban.
“Marathon talks last month saw the two sides walk away with a “draft framework” that included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for international terror groups.There was no accord on a US withdrawal or a ceasefire, however, issues which have derailed attempts at peace talks in the past, while the government in Kabul has voiced increasingly loud fears it was being sidelined from the talks.
The latest negotiations came as violence soars in Afghanistan, with the UN reporting Sunday that more civilians were killed in 2018 than any other year since records began in 2009.US President Donald Trump has signalled his eagerness to end his country´s involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.
Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.

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Civilian deaths in Afghan war hit record in 2018

KABUL: More civilians were killed in the Afghan war in 2018 than during any other year on record after nearly two decades of fighting, according to a UN report released Sunday.
The report’s release comes a day before the US and the Taliban hold their next round of talks aimed at ending the conflict, raising tentative hopes for peace along with fears that an American withdrawal could spark an even bloodier civil war.The talks in Doha follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan. According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade when the organisation began compiling the data.
The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).”It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.”The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting,” he said. At least 65 suicide attacks were recorded in 2018 — the majority hitting Kabul — with militants responsible for the death of more than 2,200 civilians across the country.
An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”, the report noted.The US intensified its air campaign against Taliban and IS fighters as Washington seeks to pile pressure on the militants, dropping twice as many munitions on insurgent positions in 2018 compared to the previous year.Yamamoto said the civilian casualties were “wholly unacceptable” and called on all parties to take “immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed”.Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.
The escalating violence comes as US President Donald Trump has been pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.Marathon talks held in Doha in January sparked hopes of a breakthrough after the two sides agreed to a “draft framework” that included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terror groups.But US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — who is leading the American side negotiating with the Taliban — has emphasised that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground. Critics remain skeptical of the talks for a number of reasons, primarily because they have not yet included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets.
Civilian deaths jumped by 11 percent from 2017 with 3,804 people killed and another 7,189 wounded, according to the UN figures, as suicide attacks and bombings wreaked havoc across the war-torn country.The report’s release comes a day before the US and the Taliban hold their next round of talks aimed at ending the conflict, raising tentative hopes for peace along with fears that an American withdrawal could spark an even bloodier civil war.
The talks in Doha follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan. According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade when the organisation began compiling the data.
The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).”It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.
“The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting,” he said. At least 65 suicide attacks were recorded in 2018 — the majority hitting Kabul — with militants responsible for the death of more than 2,200 civilians across the country.An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”, the report noted.The US intensified its air campaign against Taliban and IS fighters as Washington seeks to pile pressure on the militants, dropping twice as many munitions on insurgent positions in 2018 compared to the previous year.
Yamamoto said the civilian casualties were “wholly unacceptable” and called on all parties to take “immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed”.Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.The escalating violence comes as US President Donald Trump has been pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.Marathon talks held in Doha in January sparked hopes of a breakthrough after the two sides agreed to a “draft framework” that included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terror groups.But US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — who is leading the American side negotiating with the Taliban  has emphasised that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground. Critics remain skeptical of the talks for a number of reasons, primarily because they have not yet included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets.

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US, Russia and Blackwater mercenaries plot different futures for Afghanistan

It would be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future, writes Saeed Naqvi. Two parallel peace processes on Afghanistan are underway.
In Doha, Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan has held extensive round of talks with Taleban leaders, spread over several days last month.
The authorship of this process is, quite jealously, America’s. But on February 5 and 6, Taliban and other Afghan political groups also met in Moscow.
A roadmap for the future, titled the Moscow Declaration was announced. Among its nine points is one which also suggests coordination with the Doha process – there is no jealous guarding of ownership of the peace process here.
Anyone interested in peace is the joint author. The declaration was immediately rubbished by the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
“Moscow declaration will not have impact on the peace process in Afghanistan” said palace spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.I have Russian estimates of five years ago.
They may have changed, but in those days the Russians were convinced of 30 US bases in Afghanistan.Of these, the ones at Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Helmand, Shindand (Herat) and Mazar-e-Sharif were, by the sheer volume of masonry and architecture, not temporary.
These bases will remain. Are we then talking about a qualified departure?If the US is actually planning departure, why would it build a consulate in the heart of Mazar-e-Sharif on a scale which would dwarf large embassies? Renaissance is the only reasonable hotel in Mazar-e-Sharif.
It does not take long for great powers to develop more than one point of interest once they have entered an area of strategic significance. It would therefore be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.
“All this blood and treasure was spent for what?” some Americans will ask. Also the chant in Kabul once was “We must remain in the vicinity to keep a watch on the world’s only Muslim nuclear state.
”After Obama announced on December 1, 2009 the US intention to leave Afghanistan in July 2011, I had argued in a paper for the Observer Research Foundation that Americans can simply not leave Afghanistan. I have been proven right so far.
And now once again the “We are leaving” story has been let loose. True, this time the circumstances are different, but let us take a look.
Last July, Zalmay Khalilzad and Morgulov Igor Vladimirovich, Russia’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, (who was behind the scenes in the intra-Afghan dialogue in Moscow on February 5 and 6) attend a high power meet in New Delhi on regional issues.In a more cooperative world order, one would have expected the representatives of the US and Russia to exchange notes on Afghanistan.
What transpired was to the contrary. Vladimirovich made an allegation that startled the gathering.
“ISIS fighters were being flown to Northern Afghanistan from Syria” was the claim. The Afghan air space is under the control of the US and the government in Kabul.
“So, who is responsible?” Khalilzad offered a tepid denial. The denial lacked credibility because the Russian allegation had been preceded by another made by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatullah Khomenei.
In the course of his Friday address on January 30, 2018. Khomenei said, “The US transfer of IS terrorists to Afghanistan is aimed at creating a justification for its continued presence in the region.
”In countries surrounding Afghanistan, doubts about American intentions may be more muted but are just as strong. It is deeply ironical that Jihadism, terrorism and Islamism manufactured in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 80s, may be returning to complete the circle.
Indeed, there is a certain inevitability about Islamic militancy becoming a tool of American foreign policy. The triangular romance between Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh will ensure this state of affairs for as long as this romance lasts.
Let me explain the inevitability. When animal rights groups forced the famous annual fox hunt to stop in South India’s most Anglaise hill station Ooty, I expressed my curiosity to the master of the hunt: “What have you done to the hundreds of hounds of high pedigree trained diligently for the hunt?” The lovely canines had been transferred to an expensive kennel from where dog lovers could acquire them.
So now we know what to do with redundant foxhounds of high pedigree? What does a state like Saudi Arabia do with spare Islamic militants who have been heavily equipped and trained to kill at the cost of billions? They can only be relocated to newer theatres of conflict like Afghanistan. From here they can plague all the countries the US wishes to destabilize – Xinxiang in China, the Caucasus in Russia, Iran and Pakistan, too, if it does not behave according to the US diktat.
To make the confusion worse, Erik Prince, founder of the world’s biggest mercenary military company, which has mutated from Blackwater to Academi and Triple Canopy, is back in Afghanistan floating the idea of US troops to be replaced by Prince’s mercenary army. His plan that Afghanistan be administered by a “viceroy” was shot down by National Security Adviser H.
R. McMaster and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
After the two were shown the door, Prince has been all over Afghanistan again in and Khalilzad’s notice. The only person who has refused to meet him in Kabul is President Ghani.
The writer is a journalist based in IndiaTags:Analysis Saeed Naqvi Related PostsMemoryMagic Latch February 15, 2019News AnalysisA Gnarled Oak with a Broken Heart February 15, 2019Next Post Can everyone have health insurance in Pakistan? Leave a Reply Cancel replyThis site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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Taliban to hold talks with US in Islamabad on 18th

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban said on Wednesday they would hold peace talks with the United States in Islamabad on February 18, before their scheduled meeting in Qatar on 25th of this month.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement to media saying their negotiations process would continue to take place with the United States and meetings have already been held in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The spokesman said their next round of peace talks will take place on February 25, in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.About their meeting in Pakistan, the spokesman said they had received a formal invitation from of the government of Pakistan and therefore they decided to meet US officials in Islamabad on February 18.
The Taliban spokesman didn’t explain reason of holding a meeting with US officials in Islamabad when they had already announced their schedule for peace negotiations in Qatar on 25th of this month.Senior Taliban leaders however argued that it was first time they received a formal invitation from Pakistan’s Foreign Office and invited them to Islamabad and offered a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
There is a big change in Pakistan’s policy this time. Previously they used to use pressure on us and would contact us either through Maulana Fazlur Rahman or late Maulana Samiul Haq whenever they needed.
However, this is first time they invited us through their foreign office and that’s why our leadership accepted their invitation, said a senior Taliban leader in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.Pleading anonymity, he said one of the major reasons they refused to meet US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation members last time in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as both the countries wanted Taliban to include the Afghan government in the peace process.
Pakistan had last time approached us through these Pakistani religious leaders and wanted us to also include the Afghan government in the peace process which was not possible for us. And that’s why we didn’t meet Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation, said the Taliban leader.
Taliban termed it their biggest success when Pakistan acknowledged their position officially and invited them to their country through their foreign office.He said they had already announced their schedule for peace negotiations with US in Qatar but Pakistan this time didn’t make any demand from Taliban and was very keen to invite them to the country and meet their prime minister.
The world has now recognised our position and accepted us true representatives of Afghanistan. It was made possible after our long struggle and sacrifices of thousands of our people in Afghanistan, said the Taliban leader.
He said their top leadership had recently decided to appoint their separate official representatives for Pakistan and Iran. He said they would announce it through the media.
He didn’t agree with rumours that US wanted Pakistan to use its influence on Taliban before the crucial meeting in Qatar to show flexibility in the February 25 peace negotiations.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they had not yet nominated their delegation members for the talks with US in Islamabad.
Taliban sources said some of their representatives from Qatar may arrive in Islamabad while some of the people are expected to travel from Afghanistan for the meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad and Prime Minister Imran Khan.Taliban on Tuesday nominated their 14-member team for talks with US in Qatar.
Taliban’s new head of political council Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar will not participate in the Qatar talks.Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, who had been leading Taliban delegation in the peace talks, has been appointed Taliban chief negotiator.
Other members of his team include, Maulvi Ziaur Rahman Madani, Maulvi Abdus Salam Hanafi, Sheikh Shahabudin Dilawar, Mulla Abdul Lateef Mansoor, Mulla Abdul Manan Omari, Maulvi Ameer Khan Muttaqi, Mulla Mohmmad Fazil Mazloom, Mulla Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mulla Mohammad Anas Haqqani, Mulla Noorullah Noori, Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Omari and Mulla Abdul Haq Waseeq.Taliban sources said that some of their members in Qatar were banned in Pakistan and it would enable them to visit Islamabad, in case Pakistan left the ban on their entry.
Taliban said their representatives would like to discuss prisoners’ exchange and some other issues with Zalmay Khalilzad in the Islamabad meeting. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has frequently been claiming to have brought the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table with US.
Taliban said they would meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for “comprehensive discussions about Pak-Afghan relations and issues pertaining to Afghan refugees and Afghan businessmen”.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement to media saying their negotiations process would continue to take place with the United States and meetings have already been held in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The spokesman said their next round of peace talks will take place on February 25, in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.About their meeting in Pakistan, the spokesman said they had received a formal invitation from of the government of Pakistan and therefore they decided to meet US officials in Islamabad on February 18.
The Taliban spokesman didn’t explain reason of holding a meeting with US officials in Islamabad when they had already announced their schedule for peace negotiations in Qatar on 25th of this month.Senior Taliban leaders however argued that it was first time they received a formal invitation from Pakistan’s Foreign Office and invited them to Islamabad and offered a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“There is a big change in Pakistan’s policy this time. Previously they used to use pressure on us and would contact us either through Maulana Fazlur Rahman or late Maulana Samiul Haq whenever they needed.
However, this is first time they invited us through their foreign office and that’s why our leadership accepted their invitation”, said a senior Taliban leader in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.Pleading anonymity, he said one of the major reasons they refused to meet US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation members last time in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as both the countries wanted Taliban to include the Afghan government in the peace process.
“Pakistan had last time approached us through these Pakistani religious leaders and wanted us to also include the Afghan government in the peace process which was not possible for us. And that’s why we didn’t meet Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation,” said the Taliban leader.
Taliban termed it their “biggest” success when Pakistan acknowledged their position officially and invited them to their country through their foreign office.He said they had already announced their schedule for peace negotiations with US in Qatar but Pakistan this time didn’t make any demand from Taliban and was very keen to invite them to the country and meet their prime minister.
“The world has now recognised our position and accepted us true representatives of Afghanistan. It was made possible after our long struggle and sacrifices of thousands of our people in Afghanistan,” said the Taliban leader.
He said their top leadership had recently decided to appoint their separate official representatives for Pakistan and Iran. He said they would announce it through the media.
He didn’t agree with rumours that US wanted Pakistan to use its influence on Taliban before the crucial meeting in Qatar to show flexibility in the February 25 peace negotiations.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they had not yet nominated their delegation members for the talks with US in Islamabad.
Taliban sources said some of their representatives from Qatar may arrive in Islamabad while some of the people are expected to travel from Afghanistan for the meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad and Prime Minister Imran Khan.Taliban on Tuesday nominated their 14-member team for talks with US in Qatar.
Taliban’s new head of political council Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar will not participate in the Qatar talks.Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, who had been leading Taliban delegation in the peace talks, has been appointed Taliban chief negotiator.
Other members of his team include, Maulvi Ziaur Rahman Madani, Maulvi Abdus Salam Hanafi, Sheikh Shahabudin Dilawar, Mulla Abdul Lateef Mansoor, Mulla Abdul Manan Omari, Maulvi Ameer Khan Muttaqi, Mulla Mohmmad Fazil Mazloom, Mulla Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mulla Mohammad Anas Haqqani, Mulla Noorullah Noori, Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Omari and Mulla Abdul Haq Waseeq.Taliban sources said that some of their members in Qatar were banned in Pakistan and it would enable them to visit Islamabad, in case Pakistan left the ban on their entry.
Taliban said their representatives would like to discuss prisoners’ exchange and some other issues with Zalmay Khalilzad in the Islamabad meeting. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has frequently been claiming to have brought the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table with US.

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