Afghan peace process: Hizb-e-Islami begin preliminary talks

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ISLAMABAD: The Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-led Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) has started talks with Afghan leaders in Kabul to lay the groundwork for peace negotiations with President Ashraf Ghani’s government, a senior leader of the insurgent group said on Thursday.

According to a report published in Express Tribune, an HIA political committee delegation, led by Muhammad Amin Karim, met the head of the government-sponsored peace council, Pir Sayed Geelani, on Thursday and discussed with him matters related to the proposed peace process.

“I can confirm that a two-member delegation of the political committee is involved in homework for the peace process,” head of the HIA political committee, Ghairat Baheer told The Express Tribune by telephone. He said the ‘technical delegation’ will also call on Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

According to an Afghan official familiar with developments, some Taliban leaders have also followed HIA’s cue and agreed to join the talks.

At the same time, however, Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has urged his fighters to intensify operations in the coming months. “The Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are now in a much stronger position as they have achieved major gains and the series of victories are continuing. We should be ready for a final blow to the enemy,” Mansoor said in a message to his supporters.

Pakistan still has hopes

Pakistan said on Thursday that efforts are continuing for holding of direct talks between Afghan government and Taliban to achieve the objective of peace and stability in the region.

“Efforts by the QCG (Quadrilateral Coordination Group) countries are continuing for holding the talks between Afghan government and the Taliban,” the Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakria said.

“It is a shared responsibility of all the four countries which are part of the QCG. At this stage I can only say that efforts are on and all the four countries are making their own efforts in their own domains to bring the Taliban groups as well as other groups to the negotiation table for direct talks between Afghan government and the groups invited for the talks,” he said at his weekly news briefing.

Mullah Rasool says will not participate in peace talks led by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor

The dissident Taliban leader Mullah Rasool has said he will not participate in peace talks with the government which is led by the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

In an interview with the UK-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Mullah Rasool has said he is not opposed to reconciliation in principle, insisting that he opposes with Mansoor’s hegemony over the process as far as the Taliban are concerned.

“Earlier we were thinking that the Afghan Government wanted peace talks with all Taliban, but when we saw that it is interested only in making peace with Mullah Mansur because of the dictates of the Pakistani Government, we decided we cannot start peace talks with the Afghan Government,” Rasool added.

Rasool further added that he will not sit in the same reconciliation meetings with Mansoor, whose claim to leadership he considers spurious, nor will he start a separate reconciliation track.

 

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