Afghan govt rejects Taliban’s request for office

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Islamabad: Its déjà vu in Afghanistan again, where the Ashraf Ghani government has reportedly opposed the proposal made by the Afghan Taliban to open a ‘political office’ in Qatar. The first Taliban ‘political office’ was closed down soon after opening in the Qatari capital of Doha after the then Afghan president, Hamid Karzai expressed strong reservations. 

This development comes a day after it was widely reported that both sides had agreed that insurgents should open a political office in Qatar for negotiations. In a two-day “unofficial” meeting with a delegation of the government-backed peace council and other prominent Afghan personalities at Al Khor in Qatar, representatives of the Afghan Taliban demanded re-opening and recognition of their office in that country.

On Wednesday, 6 May, Pakistani daily Express Tribune reported that the Afghan government, had opposed any such move saying that Afghanistan has a ‘legitimate government.’ 

Justifying the need for opening a ‘political office’ abroad, a Taliban statement read out during the unofficial talks in Qatar had said, “We need a place of contacts, in the form of an office to carry out talks. Presently, the Islamic Emirate does not have a formal address for holding peace talks which we believe is an essential requirement.”

In response, Ahmad Shakeb Mustaghni, the Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said, “The position of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is very clear about the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan office.” 

He said, “It is one state and one legal government which enjoys the support of the people of Afghanistan who want a single state with one government.”

While refusing to the government’s demand for a ceasefire until all foreign troops leave Afghanistan, the head of the eight-member Taliban delegation had during a meeting organised by the Canadian-based Pugwash group, expressed the need for a political office. 

During his weekly briefing in Kabul, Mustaghni said that the representatives of the Afghan government were also invited to the Qatar meeting but they did not attend as the talks were unofficial.  

The Afghan Taliban insists that “organised meetings regarding peace can only be held in an office-like vicinity. It is equally necessary for the office to issue press releases related to peace, to answer questions and remove the anxieties of people.”

The first Taliban ‘political office’ was closed down soon after opening in the Qatari capital of Doha after the then Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, objected to a plaque on the building inscribed with ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’, a name the Taliban used for their regime in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 and a white flag hoisted atop the building.

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