Afghan government ready for talks with Taliban, says envoy
July 16 2013 01:14 AM

The Afghan government is ready to sit down with the Taliban in Doha or anywhere in the world for the sake of peace and stability in Afghanistan, a senior Afghan envoy said yesterday.

In an interview with Gulf Times, Mohamed Qasim Himat, the acting Afghan ambassador to Qatar, said the onus was actually on the Taliban to show that they were indeed earnest and sincere in the peace process, an initiative ably supported by Qatar.

When asked whether he was referring to a ceasefire as a pre-condition to the talks, Himat said: “We are not talking about any ceasefire or any pre-conditions. We just want to know whether the Taliban can show more seriousness in their talks for bringing peace to Afghanistan, for example, by stopping terrorist attacks in our country which harm the interest of every Afghan or anything else.”

The Afghan Taliban in Doha in interviews in the past had rejected any suggestions of observing  a ceasefire as a pre-condition to the talks.

About the possible visit of a delegation comprising members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) to Doha, Himat said  the Afghan government would spare no effort to bring peace and in fact had been ready to send the HPC members to Qatar as soon as it was announced that the Taliban’s Doha office would be opened.

However, when the Taliban named their office as the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and raised a white flag on their building as if it were an embassy, the Karzai-led government pulled out from plans to send the HPC delegation to Doha. Following strong objections from Kabul and the US, the nameplate and the flag were removed but the Taliban had shown their displeasure since then by not showing any interest to launch the talks for which an American official had even landed in Doha.

In fact, since that day on June 18, there have been no official talks between either the US and the Taliban, or the Taliban and the Karzai-led government officials. Although there has been no official word, the deadlock appears to have been persisting with reports of a “temporary shutdown” of the Taliban’s Doha office.

Himat said that even now the Afghan government was ready to send the HPC delegation to Qatar at “the right time”. He declined to give any definite date of the HPC’s expected visit or that of any senior official from Afghanistan in the coming days.

The envoy also stressed on the importance of making the peace talks Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. He said that while it was important that all regional and international powers played their role in bringing peace,  it was the Afghans themselves who would have to speak to each other.

“No matter if the Afghan is a Taliban or a government official or an ordinary citizen, eventually we will have to talk to each other to bring peace in our region,” he said.

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