Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah said on Monday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s offer to revive the Afghan peace process was “good” but Pakistan should “stop supporting the Taliban”.
Abdullah’s response came two days after PM Nawaz said he wanted to bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table. The premier, however, seemed upset over Kabul’s decision to disclose the death of Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Omar days before the second round of the Pakistan-brokered process was scheduled to kick off.
Nawaz’s statement is a hot topic in Afghanistan these days, and Abdullah is the first senior leader to have responded to it during his address to the council of ministers in Kabul on Monday.
“It is a good offer but we want all support to the Taliban stopped,” the chief executive told the ministers, according to the Afghan media. “This would be useful, as they (the Taliban) would be unable to carry out major attacks if they do not receive [Pakistan’s] support.”
On the Taliban’s request, Pakistan had postponed the second round of face-to-face talks between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban following news of Omar’s death in late July.
Senior Pakistani officials had hoped for substantial progress in the second round of talks to reduce violence in Afghanistan.
Talking to the media in Lahore, Nawaz had admitted that the disclosure of Omar’s death had had a “negative impact” on the rare Afghan peace talks. A senior Pakistani diplomat had informed the media last month that an eight-member Taliban delegation of the organisation’s powerful central council had arrived in Islamabad for the talks.
“We had done a lot to encourage the Taliban leaders to resume talks at the request of the Afghan government,” the premier told a news conference this weekend. “But the death of Mullah Omar was made public. There was no need to break the news when the second round of talks was scheduled to be held two days after the news was disclosed.”
The deadly Taliban attacks in August proved to be a major setback in the negotiations, as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of involvement and refused to seek Islamabad’s support in the talks.
A problem has emerged for the national unity government because of the Taliban’s refusal to hold talks with them. President Ghani has yet to chalk out a strategy on encouraging the Taliban to join the intra-Afghan dialogue.
The government-sponsored High Peace Council has no chairman since Salahuddin Rabbani was inducted into the cabinet in January.
Afghan sources say pressure has been mounting on Kabul to revive the talks, as the Taliban have increased their attacks. The Taliban’s seizure of the strategic northern city of Kunduz on September 28 without any strong resistance was seen as a major embarrassment for the Afghan forces and its Nato allies. A few days later, the US air strikes enabled them to enter and reclaim parts of the captured city.
Before the deadlock, Pakistani leaders had warned Afghanistan that detractors could derail the nascent peace process.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.