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No direct peace talks with Taliban yet: HPC

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“Durand Line a national issue, not included in the agenda of peace dialogue”

By Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi:KABUL: Members of the High Peace Council (HPC), who were summed by Wolesi Jirga (WJ), said that they haven’t started direct peace talks with the Taliban yet.

Deputy Chairman of the HPC, Hajji Din Muhammad, assured lawmakers that they were yet to start direct negotiations with the Taliban.  He termed peace parleys with the Taliban as the only way to end wars in Afghanistan.

He said that the government will practice more caution and will take national interests into consideration in the talks. He stressed that peace deal will not endanger achievements of the past 13 years. “Durand Line issue will not be in agenda of the peace talks with the Taliban or Islamabad, as it is a national issue,” he added.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salahuddin Rabbani, said that peace talks are in their initial stages and have not been started yet. He said that ground is now paved for talks.

“Official trips have been made to different countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Uzbekistan to attract their support for Afghanistan’s peace negotiations,” he said, adding that bringing peace to Afghanistan is a time-consuming process.  Rabbani said that achievements of the past 13 years would not be sold out in the peace deal with the Taliban, as Afghanistan wants peace talks with its dignity intact.

Secretary of the HPC, Masoom Stanekzai, said there in the Afghan government for peace talks with the Taliban. “President Ashraf Ghani has studied the WJ’s proposed mechanism for peace talks,” he added. Stanekzai assured lawmakers that the peace talks will not be conducted in secrete from people of Afghanistan.

“All Jihadi leaders, political figures, civil society and representative of women will be informed of any development in peace talks,” he added.

He said that the government has convinced regional countries to lend their support to Afghanistan’s peace process. “The entire Muslim world acknowledges terrorism as their common enemy. Thus, Kabul will spare no efforts to convince Islamic world and regional countries to lend their support to an Afghan-led peace process,” Stanekzai maintained.

He emphasized that national interests will be taken into consideration in any talks with the Taliban.

In the meantime, MPs mounted concerns over transparency of the peace process and casted doubt on Pakistan’s sincerity.