Taliban, Afghan Govt Resume Secret Talks Amid Deadly Battles

DohaStoryToday

The Taliban and negotiators from the Afghan government have resumed secret talks in Doha of Qatar, a source close to the Presidential Palace (ARG) confirmed on Tuesday, adding that the National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar and Mohammad Masum Stanekzai, head the National Directorate of Security (NDS) represented government delegation in the talks.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Palace in a statement said government will use all options that could help to clinch groundbreaking peace agreement with the militant group.

“The Afghan government firmly believes in a dignified and sustainable peace. For this purpose, Kabul will use all options and sources, but within the framework of the law,” said Dawa Khan Minapal, deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani.

According to a report published in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, among those present at the meetings held last month was Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, brother of Mullah Omar, Taliban’s founding leader, who led the movement from its earliest days until his death in 2013.

“The two rounds of the talks are the first known negotiations to have taken place since a Pakistan-brokered process entirely broke down following the death in a US drone strike of Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mans” read the report.

The report noted that no Pakistani official took part in either the October or September meetings, according to a member of the Taliban’s leadership council, the Quetta Shura. He said Islamabad has lost much of its traditional influence over a movement it has been associated with since it rose to power in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s.

“It is expected that Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub, son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the former leader of the Taliban join a delegation of Taliban in Qatar soon in order to increase the authorities of Taliban office in that country,” a Taliban leader has said.

Referring to the reports of the secret talks, meanwhile a number of military analysts have said that the Taliban have become tired of the war and now the group wants to talk with the government, but away from the influence of Pakistan military intelligence service (ISI).

“The main reason is that Taliban has come under mounting pressure and the group strives to come out of it,” political commentator Mahmoud Marhoon said.

“Taliban has designated a number of envoys for Central Asia and Iran and some other countries,” said Hassan Hotak, member of Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament).

Reports over a secret peace talks between the two sides surface at a time that the much-awaited process hit deadlock last year after the Taliban set of a number of preconditions to negotiate with the government. But the talks completely broke down following the death of the group’s former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a U.S drone strike apparently inside the Pakistani territory.

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