Afghan-Taliban Meeting Seen as Gesture for Possibility of Talks
Leaders of Taliban are said to be meeting with at least one of the senior Afghan officials on Tuesday in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. According to the government and a senior Western diplomat, the move is seen to be a positive step that could spark negotiations to bring to an end the Afghan war.
For so many years now, the Taliban has turned down all the efforts of face-to-face meetings with the government of Afghanistan. The fact that representatives from senior positions of both sides were involved in a meeting is a reflection of a softer stance on that position.
This meeting comes after numerous encounters this year between the current and ex-Taliban officials in Qatar, China and Norway. However, these claims were later on squashed by the insurgents. Nonetheless, the meeting that took place in Islamabad has a special implication considering its location, and also the responsibility that was expected of Pakistani officials in the matter.
Officials who are well versed with the negotiations said that America and China are both expected to take part in the talks. ‘’The US and Chinese representatives were present to ‘’act as observers’’ and had come on invitation by the Afghan and Pakistani governments,’’ said one of the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The talks were expected to start on Tuesday evening, although they had not started as of late afternoon.
Over the past seven months, Afghanistan president, Ashraf Ghani has reportedly spent quite a vast amount of political capital in persuading the Pakistani government to convince the Taliban to pursue peace talks in order to end the bloodshed. The war has lasted for more than a decade and has now heightened to become one of the fiercest battles in the world.
According to a statement obtained from Afghan president, Mr. Ghani’s official Twitter account on Tuesday, ‘’a delegation from the High Peace Council of Afghanistan has traveled to Pakistan for talks with the Taliban.’’
This meeting is a clear indication of the payoffs of the efforts of the Afghan president, although the expectations for lasting solutions are on the low. A senior Western diplomat pointed out that the negotiations are considered a success by the Afghan government and its foreign allies even if the aim of the meeting is to pave ways for future agreements, regardless of whether the war continues or erupts. The Diplomat requested to speak on anonymity because of the concern that any leakage about the talks would dissuade the Taliban from taking part.
Both the Taliban and the Afghan government have in the past been skeptical on using Pakistan as a mediator in any of the talks pertaining to the future of Afghanistan. The Afghan government has been wary that Pakistan would interfere with negotiations in the hopes of using the terrorist group, its traditional backer, as a means of maintaining its influence over the affairs of Afghanistan.
The role of Pakistani government in facilitating Tuesday talks is likely to be looked at carefully by both sides, as well other nations that have longed for a peace deal. One of the clues of the significance of the meeting could be in the statement released by the Taliban after it is over.