The Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar was officially opened in 2013; but due to the ‘Taliban flag’ and banner -“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”- issues the Afghan government did not recognized this newly formed office. In the past several years, the Taliban has always stressed on the role of Qatar Office for official peace talks with the Afghan government and through this office it has announced its stance in various international meetings and conferences.
The Director General of the Center for Strategic and Regional Studies Dr. Abdul Baqi Amin visited Qatar on July 24 and has met the members of the Taliban’s Political Office. The CSRS media group has interviewed Mr. Amin about his recent trip to Taliban’s political office in Qatar and the Taliban’s position on Afghan peace process.
The Afghan war is now totally became an intra-Afghan war and its victims are solely Afghans, in this regard, how did you find the Taliban’s stance on Peace, is it changed?
Answer: As you have mentioned, we had discussed the Afghan issue and the peace process with the head and members of the Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar. They said, “We are not happy to kill Afghans and we are really sad that Afghans are becoming the victims of this war; those who die in the ranks of Afghan police and army are our Muslim brothers and the United States of America deliberately wanted to make this war an intra-Afghan war”. In our meetings, they had clearly said that they want to stop the killing of Afghans.
Generally what was their opinion about peace? And what was their position regarding the Quadrilateral Peace Talks?
Answer: If I answer in a short sentence, the Taliban’s representatives said that they want peace and that the war is imposed on them; the Taliban stressed that they are completely independent from Pakistan and the Afghan government’s request from Pakistan in bringing the Taliban to the negotiation table was inappropriate move, because, Pakistan cannot do so and this is the reason why the Quadrilateral Talks fails.
According to Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the assassination of Mullah Mansour has created many obstacles in the way of the Afghan peace process. Perhaps you may have concluded from the ideas of the Taliban representatives, has killing Mullah Mansour really created obstacles in the way of Peace?
Answer: According to the representatives of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour did not oppose peace, but, opposed Pakistan’s representative role of Taliban and dominance over the peace process. That is why three months prior to his death; he kept himself out of the reach of Pakistan and was threatened by Pakistan. According to the members of the Taliban’s Political Office he was committed to peace which is not contradictory to Afghan national interests and forming Qatar’s political Office was also his initiation.
I personally believes that killing of Mullah Mansour has increased obstacles in the way of peace and increased mistrust over the US and Pakistan because the Taliban believes that Mullah Mansour was eliminated by the joint efforts of the US and Pakistan.
If you may tell us specifically, has the assassination of Mullah Akhtar Mansour changed the Taliban’s position?
Answer: I think that killing Mullah Akhtar Mansour has not altered the overall stance of the Taliban. The Taliban seemed tired of the war and believed that the perpetuation of war is not in the interests of Afghanistan; but they claimed that they are “dominant in most parts of Afghanistan and have comprehensive civil and military organizations; Americans are defeated in Afghanistan; and now is the time for Afghans to reach a consensus among themselves to find a way to end the continuous war in the country”. The Taliban representatives told us that they do not want monopoly of power and are ready to reach a consensus about the country’s future through an intra- Afghan reconciliation.
You said that the Taliban are ready for peace talks through an intra-Afghan reconciliation, and on the other hand the Afghan government has repeatedly invited the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process, then where does the problem lays that the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban do not starts?
Answer: The Taliban says that the Afghan government is not committed to peace, and they (the Afghan government) only talks and do not take practical measures. About Karzai’s term, the Taliban said that “he criticized us for not having a specific address but when our office was opened in Qatar he did not recognize it; when peace negotiations were planned in Turkmenistan, he stopped it. The Taliban also said that they had met Ashraf Ghani before the elections and there was mutual understanding between them but when Ghani seized the power, he signed the bilateral security agreement with the US and allowed them to conduct night operations in Afghanistan and later he outreached to Pakistan for peace talks in a manner as if the Taliban were under Pakistan’s control; therefore these are all the steps that neither indicate goodwill and nor willingness for peace. The Taliban further said that they will continue fighting until the US troops withdrew, but if the date of US soldiers’ withdrawal was set and guaranteed then reaching to a consensus over other issues will be easy.
If you tell us briefly, what was your objective to visit Qatar and to meet the Taliban representatives?
We presented our peace proposal to the Taliban. Based on our proposal a meeting of influential Afghans that have an impact on various political parties must be organized and at the end of the meeting a secretariat must be established to bring the opinions of the two sides closer and to decrease trust deficit between opposing parties. Besides that a pro-peace committee with the combination of countries in the region and international community must be established which must provide facilities to the peace secretariat, the regional countries and international community will then work to convince other countries regarding peace and should guarantee the promises and commitments made regarding peace. After taking these measures if anyone was not willing to join peace talks or was creating obstacles in its way should be introduced to both Afghans and the world, and all parties will pressurized them to join peace talks.
What was the opinion of the Taliban representatives regarding your proposal and intra-Afghan reconciliation?
They totally agreed to our proposal and they assured us that in order to resolve the Afghan issue they are ready for intra-Afghan reconciliation and if a group devoted to Islam and Afghanistan take the initiative, they (the Taliban) will cooperate with them to find a way for the current war in the country.
The Taliban representatives said that the Pugwash conference provided us the opportunity to come to understand many Afghans and due to these conferences they were successful to eliminate afghans suspicions; but they said that they still supports an Afghan mediator group to take the initiative and to manage the process in a way that leads to a long lasting peace in the country.
You have mentioned an intra-Afghan reconciliation, how can it happen, what is its mechanism?
Answer: I think that all Afghans are now committed to peace; all that is needed now are the sincere and influential people to take the initiative and gain the trust of those who seek peace and to rally the nation behind them and conduct peace talks in several stages:
First: They have to convince all Afghans for peace and in this regard must eliminate all the obstacles.
Second: They should convince the neighbors and countries in the region that peace in Afghanistan is in their interest and they should play a positive role in the peace process.
Third: It must find sincere international support from international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It must also attract the attention of those Islamic and European countries that are sincerely against war. Thus the role of the supporter countries must be organized in a way that on the one hand, they should facilitate peace talks and on the other hand, they must play a guarantor role.
Fourth: a sensible message must be promoted that put an impact on the policymakers of those countries who have anti-peace policies. For instance, most of the analysts accuse the US that apparently supports the peace process but in reality it manages the war in Afghanistan.