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Feb 20, 2019
Taliban-US postponed meeting sparks concerns
KABUL (Pajhwok): Some former Taliban members and Afghan politicians have voiced their concern over the delayed meeting between US and Taliban representatives in Islamabad.
Earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had said their negotiating team from Qatar would hold meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad on Feb 18 (last Monday).
On the other hand, some media reported that the Taliban negotiating team was expected to meet visiting Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Pakistan.
But the Taliban-US meeting was delayed as some Taliban’s delegation members were unable to travel to Islamabad due to travel restrictions.
Hazrat Umar Zakhilwal, former ambassador to Islamabad, who had read out the declaration of Moscow meeting, also criticized the delayed meeting.
“Taliban’s trip to Islamabad has raised questions and concerns that can harm the ongoing peace efforts,” he wrote on his twitter account.
Former president Hamid Karzai also said the previously unscheduled peace talks between the Taliban and the US in Pakistan ran the risk of plunging Afghanistan into regional rivalries.
In an interview with The Associated Press in Kabul, Karzai worried that the accelerated peace process was being hijacked by competing territorial interests in Afghanistan.
Former Taliban official in Kabul, Nazar Mohammad Motmaeen, also said he was worried about the US-Taliban meeting in Islamabad.
Political analyst and writer Mohammad Zaman Muzamil criticized the postponed meeting in Islamabad and said they had fruitful talks with the Taliban in Moscow.
He said the Taliban should have a comprehensive view of their country as the previous jihad against the Soviet Union forces showed how sensitive Mujaheeddin fell prey to outsiders’ plot.
Former Taliban official Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who was also present in the Moscow talks, said the Taliban and the US could reach a settlement as a result of their direct talks by building trust and offering strong guarantees.
He said it was the Taliban’s right to be assured of non-interference, to have a political office and their real participation in the government once they practically entered the streamline politics.
After this, he said, the Taliban should enter the second phase of the national and political process with confidence and power.
For reaching this major goal, Zaeef said, the Taliban should keep in mind some phases. He said the Taliban negotiating team should be fully authorized and trusted by the leadership which should also draw redlines for the team in order to avoid unnecessary advises from others.
Zaeef said members of the Taliban negotiating team should be taken to the venue of talks with their families in order they could decide without any pressure and mental stress.
He said the Taliban and the US should continue talks without outside interference in order to be successful because regional countries, particularly neighboring countries, wanted to take advantage of the talks in their own favor.
“I believe from the peace and political initiative, the ball is with the Taliban and the countrymen and the international community are waiting to see how the Taliban take this ball to the goal.”
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