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Govt urged to pursue specific peace negotiation agenda

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By Edriss Akbary-Since the government has upped the ante in peace talks with the Taliban, many Afghan gurus on regional affairs lay emphasis on specification of the agenda.

Jawed Kohistani, a political pundit while speaking to Radio Azadi said that the Afghan government should consider plans for the Taliban who are joining the peace process.

He said that the Taliban are uncertain on their future therefore they seemed to be willing on peace talks, however now it depends how the government successfully utilizes this opportunity.

It is important that discussions should be held on the agenda of Taliban’s future and their legitimate demands be accepted. Their future should be guaranteed in Afghanistan and their place in political and civil system of Afghanistan be decided.

Kohistani added venue of peace negotiations is not a matter however he said that Kabul and Islamabad look to promising venues. He said there is no exact schedule about the start of peace negotiations however he quoted the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hikmat Khalil Karzai as saying that they will start very soon as currently the government is in the process of forming a negotiation panel. He adds decision about the venue will be decided by the government. Khalil Karzai also highlighted the role of China in the peace process.

He called the Chinese government’s role crucial in the peace and reconciliation efforts. Since China enjoys close ties with Pakistan, we persuade China to ask Pakistan for its sincere efforts in bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Sayed Jawad Husseini, another expert told Radio Azadi that the government should fully consider all possible ways for advancing peace talks, because the outcome of peace negotiations is important for the people as they are war-weary and impatiently seek an end to the war.

He further added, “That the venue of talks is not a biggest deal, what matters is the outcome of negotiations. And if the peace talks take place in Kabul it will be better. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is also a suitable country.

The political affairs experts believe that ground for peace talks is conducive than any other times.

Also Afghan parliamentarians and a number of civil society activists say that the government should share peace talk’s progress with the people.

These comments came at a time when the National Unity Government is all talk and talk about peace talk.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with Jihadi leaders Abdurrab Rasool Sayaf, Mohammad Ismail Khan and Fazel Hadi Muslimyar (the Speaker of the Upper House) regarding peace process in the country a month ago.

President Ghani said that grounds were more fertile now than ever before for peace in the country and it was upon the nation to use this opportunity for achieving durable peace.

The prominent jihadi leaders shared their viewpoints and recommendations with the President. They also talked on how to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan and reassured him of their cooperation in this regard.

President Ghani also paid visit to Pakistan on November 2014 where he held meetings with a number of key Pakistani authorities and discussed peace related issues with them.

Ghani hailed Pakistan´s cooperation as Kabul seeks to lay the groundwork for peace with Taliban insurgents, the latest sign of improving ties between the two countries.

Kabul “welcomed Islamabad´s recent efforts in paving ground for peace and reconciliation”, Ghani stated.

After president Ghani’s Pakistan tour, Qari Din Mohammad, the Taliban’s representative in Qatar visited Pakistan and discussed peace talks with Pakistani officials. After holding a secret meeting with Pakistani officials in Islamabad, Qari Din Mohammad, a top aide of Omar, returned to Qatar and gave an exclusive interview to Anadolu Agency (AA).

“We are ready for peace talks with Afghan government. These negotiations are expected to be held in near future,” Mohammad told Anadolu.

“Consultations are currently underway within our council and Amir-ul-Mumineen Mullah Omar will soon decide names of those who will be involved in the delegation for the talks,” he said.

Its merit mentioning that after the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) in Afghanistan, Pakistani officials visited Kabul several times for promoting peace talks and holding separate meetings with Afghan authorities.

At a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan, General Raheel Sharif, said that Afghanistan’s enemy is also Pakistan’s enemy.

During his meeting with Ghani, both the leaders pledged support to each other in fight against terrorism and promised to restrict the use of their soil against each other.

Both countries also agreed to continue the ongoing operation against insurgents on their soils.

Recently president Ghani also went to Saudi Arabia for seeking support of Saudi Arabia in peace talks.

Both sides discussed the prospects for future Saudi-Afghan cooperation with special reference to the possible peace negotiations with the Taliban.

“The peace process was one of the key issues discussed by the two sides.

In fact, the trip of Afghan president to Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the Afghan government and the Taliban are reportedly preparing to hold peace talks soon. “Saudi Arabia can play a vital role in bringing peace to Afghanistan.”

Recently, ex-president Hamid Karzai also said that peace is important but not under the thumb of Pakistan.

The former president of Afghanistan made his remarks at a time when his successor, Ashraf Ghani, has overturned the country’s traditionally hostile relationship with Pakistan in the hope of enlisting its help in brokering a peace deal with the Taliban.

Last month, Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf admitted in a Guardian interview that his country’s intelligence agency had links with the Taliban because India and Pakistan were engaged in a “proxy war” in Afghanistan.

It reflected the longstanding view of Pakistan’s strategic thinkers who have argued Afghanistan must not be allowed to become too friendly with Pakistan’s arch-enemy India.

Karzai’s associates spoke even more frankly about their anger at Ghani’s Pakistan policy.

Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the former foreign minister and national security adviser to ex-president Karzai said to the Guardian that the policy amounts to the humiliating “appeasement” of a hostile power that would never change its ways.

He is alarmed by Ghani’s efforts to keep India, the region’s superpower, at a distance. In a sign of Delhi’s displeasure, construction work has already stalled on some key Indian-backed development projects in Afghanistan, Spanta claimed.

Dr. Spanta and many others are shocked at what they see as Ghani’s one-sided willingness to militarily support Pakistan while getting very little in return. There is yet another views as well that encourages disarmament movement. Those who hold this opinion call on the NUG to carry out a disarmament mobilization campaign where the government not only should cover the Taliban but also people with weapons in the countryside. The Taliban have many reservations to join peace process, but they should accept Afghan Constitution and put a halt to the differences once setting on the table of negotiations as there is no life in war and no death and destruction in peace.