A senior negotiator and member of the Afghan High Council Peace (HPC), Azizullah Din Mohammad, said Sunday that the Taliban is probably willing, although hesitant, to come to the peace talks tables but urged the U.S and China to put pressure on Islamabad to make this happen.
The remarks come only weeks after the Taliban’s new leader Mullah Akhter Mansour declared all-out war against the Afghan government forces and foreign troops – until a complete withdrawal of ‘invader forces’ from Afghanistan has taken place.
Referring to the so-called declaration of war by the Taliban, Din Mohammad said it was nothing more than a political message conveyed by the group’s leader.
On Sunday, senior members of the HPC and civil society institutions gathered in Kabul to discuss the issue of stalled peace talks – which was sparked by news of the death of the group’s late leader Mullah Omar.
Members said that regional rivalry fought on Afghan soil and the interference by some regional countries were among the two major issues deemed to have undermined the peace process in general.
The participants were concerned that achievements to date by the HPC would be eroded. A senior HPC member also reiterated the need for Pakistan’s honest cooperation, which he said was crucial to ensuring successful talks with the Taliban.
“U.S influence is critical in the peace negotiation process – so is China’s role. The countries should come forward and use their influence on Pakistan to force Pakistan to cooperate in the process,” Din Mohammad said.
Touching on the recent message of war by Mullah Mansour, Din Mohammad said it was a message conveyed with a political agenda.
“On one hand, Taliban conveys a negative response that they do not want peace. But I am confident it was a political message, not a resolute message. Finally they will abide by negotiations,” he said.
The gathering was also addressed by Faramarz Tamanna, the chairman of the center of strategic studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). He rejected rumors that a proxy war was going on in Afghanistan. However, he expressed his frustration over the new threats emerging in the region.
“I don’t think Saudi Arabia will return for a proxy war including Iran and Pakistan. But Daesh will come as it is a nongovernment player and it is already fighting a proxy war. But proxy war on behalf of a player,” Tamanna said.
The HPC has pushed for an honest role by Pakistan in the peace negotiation process despite President Ashraf Ghani’s recent comments that the Afghan peace process will move forward in the future with or without Pakistan.