Next Round of Peace Talks Scheduled For Pakistan Not China: Source

A senior Pakistani security official has said that the next round of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban will be held on July 31 in Pakistan. The source dismissed reports that China will be the venue for the second round of talks.

It is expected that the second round of talks with the Taliban will start within five days, however the Afghan government has not confirmed the venue as yet. But the peace council said earlier that the talks will probably be held in China. The Pakistan source meanwhile dismissed these claims.

“I can confirm the second round of the Afghan peace talks will be held in Pakistan,” the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune quoted the senior Pakistani official as saying on Saturday.

“The understanding is that the process should continue here,” he said, dismissing earlier reports from Kabul that the talks could be held in China or Qatar.

“The first meeting was to break the ice and some progress is expected in this round,” said the official.

In addition to the lack of confirmation regarding the venue, the government’s line up of negotiators is reportedly not yet finalized.

“Firstly, the government of Afghanistan should take action and bring the peace negotiation process out of political and commercial processes. The peace talks need to be broad based and inclusive. Government must at least avoid the appointment of those who took part in wars and who are greedy for power to participate in the talks as representatives or deciders of the fate of Afghanistan,” MP Shukria Barakzai said.

Although the Afghan High Peace Council has announced that they will be leading the talks analysts express reservations about this and say that the decision is made by the highest echelons of government.

“Top government officials serve in the ranks of the council. The peace council cannot play the role of a mediator as the government remains on one side of the conflict with Taliban or Pakistan. Their [HPC] role could be interpreted on a national level. But on an international level, the peace council does not have a constructive role,” Assadullah Walwanji, a member of the negotiation team in Qatar and Dubai talks said.

Analysts are meanwhile positive that the talks will be beneficial especially as a number of countries are monitoring the discussions. In a recent statement, US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel F. Feldman said that the US is monitoring the negotiations at the request of Afghan officials.

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