By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter
The Qatar-based Afghan Taliban leaders have not participated at any level in the so-called ‘Dubai initiative’ even though some of their members were present in the UAE during that time to carry out another “important task” of the ‘Islamic Emirate’, a top Taliban source told Gulf Times.
The official, who chose to remain anonymous, requested not to reveal what and with whom the other “important” matter was discussed on behalf of the ‘Islamic Emirate’ in the UAE until the “right time” came.
He, however, stressed that the Karzai-led administration in Kabul was trying its best to divide their ranks by using people such as the “former official of The Islamic Emirate” Agha Jan Mutasim, but he said that all such ‘tactics’ would fail and only further complicate efforts of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“It is true that Aga Jan Mutasim in the past had held senior posts in the Emirate, including that of finance minister and also headed our political delegation before Tayeb Aga was tasked with his present responsibilities, but it should be clear to everybody now that he is not one of us and has no authority whatsoever to speak on behalf of the Taliban leadership,” the source said.
Tayeb Aga, a close aide of Taliban chief Mullah Omar, was appointed as head of the Taliban delegation based in Qatar, when the group opened its political office in June last year. The office was “temporarily” shut down after the Taliban “boycotted” talks when differences arose over the naming of the office and hoisting of their flag.
The former Taliban senior official Agha Jan Mutasim moved to Turkey after he survived an assassination attempt in Karachi in 2010. Last February, he claimed to have organised a high-level meeting in Dubai that was attended by current and former senior Afghan Taliban leaders. Further, it was said that Karzai’s High Peace Council members also met with these Taliban officials to work out an acceptable solution to the Afghan crisis in the aftermath of the US and Nato troops withdrawal from Afghanistan post 2014.
The Afghan Taliban had also issued a formal rebuttal statement to deny the ‘Dubai initiative’ and said: “The Islamic Emirate has delegated officials and a political office to conduct its political activities and if a need arises for contacts with any party, a responsible organ will be tasked with the permission of its head, under the guidance of its leadership and on the practical needs of Jihad.”
The issue is clearly of trust as the Afghan Taliban officials believe that their former comrade Agha Jan Mutasim is being used against them by the current Afghan administration.
Speaking about another senior leader of the Taliban movement, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is regarded as the co-founder of the group along with Mullah Omar, the senior Taliban source told Gulf Times that all reports that he was set free by Pakistan were false.
“The entire world now knows that Mullah Barader was never set free and he remains in [Pakistan’s] custody,” he said.
The Taliban officials believe that extreme pressure was being applied on their senior leader Mullah Barader to join the camp of their erstwhile members such as Aga Jan Mutasim in Turkey in order to start a parallel peace process by sidelining the main Afghan Taliban leadership.
“But all their efforts have so far failed and Mullah Barader has remained loyal to the cause and refused to give in to any pressure,” the source said.
Also, the Taliban believe that the Karzai-led administration “in cahoots with Pakistan” was still trying to change the location of their talks from Qatar to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. “We chose Qatar to open our political office only because of its role as a neutral mediator and any plans to forcibly change the location of talks will only lead to failure of the peace process,” he said.
The Taliban office in Doha.-File photo