Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Pakistan playing positive role in Afghanistan peace talks, says Afghan envoy

After nearly 17 years of armed conflict the government controls around 55 per cent of the total territory of Afghanistan while the Taliban control around 11 per cent with the rest being disputed area according to the United States Special Inspector Gen Taliban, US to sit down to peace talks
Deanna Wagner | 10 January, 2019, 17:36

United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday embarked on a two-week tour of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China for talks with each country's leadership on the Afghan peace process. "The meeting will continue for two days", a senior member of the Taliban said on condition of anonymity.

In 2001, Iran worked with the United States to help set up a new Afghan government to replace the Taliban, which had been toppled by a US -led military campaign following al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on USA cities.

Since the USA appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as the special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation and he established contact with the Taliban, a number of countries have launched parallel processes to reach out to the militants.

The document says that Afghanistan's security institutions such as the Afghan Army, border police and intelligence services will operate under national commands while police would be localised in order to create space for "localized solutions".

Khalilzad will meet with senior government officials in each country to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement. The meeting was held after Taliban officials met with Iranian authorities in Tehran.

When asked if his government was in touch with the Taliban, he said, "Indirectly". Iran recently held official security talks with the Taliban. Tehran is comfortable with the concept of a government in Kabul in which the Taliban are participants, but not a government in which the militants are the "dominant participants", the people added.

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As peace talks gained momentum a draft agreement drawn up by the influential USA think tank RAND Corporation outlining the clauses for a potential peace deal was circulated among Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul. It adds that the United States may continue providing civilian assistance.

The document suggests that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation shall end their current military missions in Afghanistan and withdraw all their personnel in three phases, over an expected period of 18 months, but adding that the U.S. civilian cooperation should continue in Afghanistan post deal. Zarif said it was up to Afghans to decide what role the Taliban should have but Afghanistan's neighbours would not want them to be in overall control.

He said that a peace process in which the rights of the citizens of Afghanistan are sacrificed has no credibility and that no one maintains the right to change the name of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The people pointed out that Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the only ones that had recognised the erstwhile Taliban regime in Kabul, while Khalilzad served as the contact person for U.S. oil company Unocal, which helped the Taliban lobby with the USA state department in 1997 to recognise the regime in Kabul. Pakistan denies the claim.

The US is seeking a lasting peace to the country's longest war, which as cost almost 1 trillion dollars and thousands of lives. It has cost Washington almost $1 trillion and killed tens of thousands of people. "I don't think it has great impact because we have now fully developed the Afghan National Security Forces that is between 350, 000 to 400, 000 [troops]", he said.

The United States, which sent troops to Afghanistan in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington and at the peak of the deployment had more than 100,000 troops in the country, withdrew most of its forces in 2014.