News / Asia

    Differences Plague Afghanistan Peace Talks

    Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, right, and Pakistani foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz exchange greetings before a four-nation meeting in Islamabad, Jan. 11, 2016. Richard Olson, a U.S. special representative, appears at left.
    Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, right, and Pakistani foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz exchange greetings before a four-nation meeting in Islamabad, Jan. 11, 2016. Richard Olson, a U.S. special representative, appears at left.
    Ayesha Tanzeem

    Even as representatives of the United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan met Monday to try to work together to bring peace to Afghanistan, officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan continued to publicly differ on the way forward.

    The Pakistani prime minister's adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, addressed the first meeting of the newly formed Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) by insisting that any "preconditions" to talks would be counterproductive and that threats of "military action against irreconcilables [factions that refuse to enter into peace negotiations] cannot precede the offer of talks to all the groups and their response to such offers."

    He also dismissed impressions that Pakistan had promised the use of force against Taliban factions that were unwilling to come to the negotiation table by saying that irreconcilables could be identified once avenues for talks had been exhausted.

    This provoked an almost immediate reaction from Afghanistan. Sayed Zafar Hashemi, the deputy spokesman of President Ashraf Ghani, told VOA that it was essential to distinguish which factions of the Taliban were willing to talk and which were not.

    "Otherwise it's a waste of time," he said.

    Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman for CEO Abdullah Abdullah, said that the meeting did focus on which groups were willing to talk and which ones wanted to continue fighting, adding that the latter groups would be dealt with "militarily."

    FILE - Afghan security forces clash with Taliban fighters on the highway connecting Balkh province to Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 1, 2015.
    FILE - Afghan security forces clash with Taliban fighters on the highway connecting Balkh province to Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 1, 2015.

    Faisal had said Sunday that Pakistan, during Monday's meeting, would provide a list of Taliban groups willing to engage in dialogue.

     Courting Pakistani military

    While the marathon meeting continued in Islamabad, Richard Olsen, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, left for Rawalpindi to meet Gen. Raheel Sharif, the head of Pakistan army.  Many in Afghanistan and the U.S. think the real power to help resolve the security issues in Afghanistan and bring the Taliban to the table lies with the Pakistani military.

    "Pakistan has a vital role in these talks and it [Pakistan] must play its role now as the Afghan government doesn't have the capacity to bring the Afghan Taliban to the table for talks," Pakistan-based defense analyst Saad M. Khan told VOA Deewa Radio.

    But Pakistan says its influence with the Taliban is overrated.

    Afghan Taliban have not yet indicated their willingness to come back to the negotiation table after an earlier round failed in July. Some Taliban officials, requesting anonymity, told VOA that Monday's meeting was useless and a failed attempt.

    Critics say there are not enough incentives for Taliban factions to participate since they control more territory today than they did at any time since they were ousted from power in 2001. 

    Unlike in July, Taliban representatives were not present in Monday's meeting. However, a meeting might soon be held in Islamabad between representatives of the Taliban, Pakistan and China to discuss the possibility of returning to the negotiation table.

    Taliban groups have indicated that they would like the talks with Afghan government to be held somewhere outside Pakistan to avoid the impression that their leaders are under Pakistan's control. Possible venues include Qatar and China.

    Defining peace process

    The next meeting of the QCG will be held Monday in Kabul. 

    The expansion of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan during the past year has fueled regional and international concerns that the upcoming spring fighting season may lead to even more bloodshed and instability in the war-shattered country. 

    The four countries involved in the peace process are trying to define the overall direction of the Afghan reconciliation process, along with setting goals and targets aimed at creating a conducive environment for holding direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban groups.

    Talks with the Taliban have been on hold since July, when they collapsed after just one meeting following Pakistan's announcement that longtime Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for more than two years. The Taliban called off its participation, and a second meeting was canceled.

    A subsequent power struggle within the Taliban has raised questions about who would represent the insurgents if the talks with Kabul are revived.

    Analysts have cautioned that any substantive peace talks are still months off. Taliban demands have consistently focused on an end to the international military presence in the country. The U.S. and NATO have 13,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, mostly in a training capacity. They include 9,800 Americans.

    Ayaz Gul contributed to this report from Islamabad.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Peter Chamberlin from: Ohio
    January 12, 2016 1:13 PM
    There should be absolute clarity about the consequences awaiting all of those Taliban who refuse to talk peace. Within the QCG there should be absolute unity of purpose in following through with these consequences, i.e., saturation bombing of the centers of resistance. India should be included in all Afghan peace talks.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora