Taliban office opens in West Bay
June 18 2013 11:16 PM

HE the Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali bin Fahad al-Hajri addressing a joint press
conference with spokesperson of the political office Mohamed Naeem. Also seen is another senior
 member of the office, Sohail Shaheen. 

By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter

The red carpet was out for HE the Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali bin Fahad al-Hajri, who was the chief guest at the opening of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ in West Bay yesterday.
All eight of the Taliban office members stood patiently in line for the assistant foreign minister, who arrived on time just after 5pm to cut the ribbon to mark the landmark moment in Afghan history in Doha.
Al-Hajri said that the State of Qatar was ‘pleased’ to announce the opening of a political office for ‘Taliban Afghanistan’ in Doha.
“This decision comes out of the keenness on the part of the State of Qatar to contribute to the enhancement of international peace efforts and the provision of opportunities for resolving conflicts by peaceful means and through dialogue .
On the efforts of Qatar to bring the US and Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table, he said: “In recent months, the State of Qatar has exerted strenuous efforts to reach convergence of views between the US government and the representatives of Taliban Afghanistan. These efforts resulted in agreement on the opening of a political office for Taliban Afghanistan in Doha.”
He commended both sides for their ‘constructive attitudes’ which resulted in the opening of the office.
“We are confident that the activity of this office will help push the peace process in Afghanistan forward and facilitate the efforts of relief and humanitarian assistance extended to the Afghan people to divert them away from any military activity or acts of violence inside or outside Afghanistan.”
Outlining the ground rules of the political office, the senior official said: “We are confident too that this office is not going to practice any activity that is incompatible with the Qatari or the international law, including the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and Qatar’s international commitments.”
In the end, he added that Qatar had taken the decision to open the political office based on the conviction that dialogue and negotiation were the only means for restoring peace in Afghanistan and achieving security and prosperity for the ‘brotherly Afghan people.’
While the hall was packed with media from all over the world, apart from the senior Qatari official, no diplomat from any other country, including Afghanistan, was invited to the event.
A senior official at the Afghan embassy told Gulf Times that they had not been extended any invitation to attend the milestone event and in fact were taken by surprise when it was announced through Al Jazeera a day before that the Taliban office would be opened on Tuesday.
Although some members of the new Taliban office mingled with the media, it was clear that this experience was very new to them. As each media person tried to get an exclusive out of the Taliban members present there, some became so uneasy with the attention that they went to the first floor of the building in order to avoid the media.
Other members chose to sit in a quiet corner in the garden under the canopy.
When simple questions such as the number of  the office staff and their names, they looked nervously at each other and said these would be revealed when the time comes.
One senior member told Gulf Times that everyone was happy with the office opening. “Just give us some time, we’ll tell you everything,” he said.
Later, a plaque outside the two-storey building with the title in Arabic ‘Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ was also revealed.

The new political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in West Bay, Doha.

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