‘War weary’ Taliban may form political party

a30ataliban war negotiate afghanistan ‘War weary’ Taliban may form political party

“We must launch a political movement to achieve the goals forwhich we have made so many sacrifices. The Taliban leaders whosenames have been removed from the UN black list will play animportant role in the political process,” Mullah Agha JanMutasim, a close confident of the militant groups elusive leaderMullah Omar and the former head of the Taliban PoliticalCommission, told the Pakistani newspaper the ExpressTribune. However, he added that the warring faction was a “vital part ofthe Taliban”.The Taliban have said numerous times that they will not talk tothe administration of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who they’vesaid was a US puppet. But political analysts believe that theTaliban are tired of waging war.“The Taliban are tired of war and it will be a step in theright direction if they launch a political movement,” RashidWaziri, an advisor at the Regional Studies Center of Afghanistan,told the Express Tribune on Sunday.Pakistan, which has some influence over the Afghan Taliban,recently sent Maulana Rehman, an influential political-religiousleader, to meet Taliban representatives in Qatar to help brokerpeace talks between the militants and the Karzai administration,although officially both sides denied the meeting.The unofficial talks in Doha, mark the latest efforts at anegotiated settlement with the Taliban.As 2014 approaches – the date when most NATO troops will leaveAfghanistan – the US is pushing for an Afghan led solution and forpeace talks between the Afghan government and theinsurgency. They also want to get Pakistan on board with any eventualsettlement. Pakistan has long been a negative influence on thesituation, enabling Taliban groups to operate from its territorywhile at the same time refusing to support negotiations.Tony Gosling, an investigative journalist based in Bristol inthe UK, believes the Taliban are serious about a political solutionand that they have more influence in the country than the Karzaigovernment.“The Taliban have more influence than Karzai does. Ifelections in Afghanistan were free and fair, the Taliban might welldo very well,” he told RT.He also said that the west is trying to bring them into thepolitical arena, as it now has little other option.“We know that this has been going on behind the scenes sincethe beginning of the occupation. As the cost of the war gets higherand higher and cuts to the defense budget begin to bite, otheroptions are being considered by the occupying powers,” saidGosling.American military commanders concluded some time ago that theAfghan war could only end in a negotiated settlement with theTaliban and not an outright military victory. However talks betweenthe Taliban and the US in 2012 ended in failure.The talks stalled because the US administration could notcomplete a proposed prisoner swap for five Taliban members inGuantanamo to be exchanged for the one US soldier in captivity inAfghanistan, Sergeant Bowe Bergdhal.The swap, which was scuppered by opposition from both parties inCongress, has made more serious talks difficult to envisage.The Taliban are also internally divided particularly betweentheir political wing and their military commanders, who werecritical of the existence of talks.They are also unwilling to meet Washington’s demands to severties with Al Qaida, renounce violence and accept the commitments topolitical and human rights in Afghanistan’s Constitution.But despite all these setbacks the Qataris remain willing tohost the talks and one of the Taliban negotiators who is still inDoha has said that talks could restart as soon as the prisoner swaptakes place and the insurgents are allowed to open an office inDoha.If this happens “and practical steps are taken by the UnitedStates of America, talks will resume. There is no otherobstruction,” Sohail Shaheen, a Taliban negotiator, toldJapan’s NHK World TV last month.Gosling believes that when NATO troops have gone andnegotiations are underway between the Taliban and the Afghangovernment, there is a chance of peace in the country, althoughthere may be problems in the short term.“What’s happening in Pakistan and Iraq with frequentsectarian bombings, there is a likelihood of this happening inAfghanistan. But ultimately, if Afghanistan were left alone, it mayturn into a more peaceful regime,” he said.

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‘War weary’ Taliban may form political party

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