News Desk |
Afghan Taliban have denied the media reports that their leadership would be meeting US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad. It was reported by the media that the US wanted Pakistan to help in arranging a meeting between US team and Taliban leadership in Islamabad and that Pakistan had conveyed its desire to the Afghan Taliban to arrange such a meeting to help break the deadlock in the Afghan peace process.
However, the Taliban have denied the Islamabad-meeting ‘rumors’. “Rumors about some meeting between US representative Zalmay Khalilzad and representatives of Islamic Emirate in Islamabad are untrue,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihulla Mujahid wrote on Twitter.
— Zabihullah (ذبیح الله م ) (@Zabihullah_4) January 18, 2019
Khalilzad has been in Islamabad since Thursday, Jan 17. Mr. Khalilzad was scheduled to depart today but media reports suggest he has decided to extend his stay in Islamabad.
In its efforts for peace in Afghanistan, Islamabad had also arranged an ice-breaking meeting between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government in Murree in 2015.
Taliban had met US team in the UAE in December, a meeting which also included Pakistani, UAE, and Saudi representatives. However, there has been a deadlock in the peace talks ever since. Reportedly, the two sides have developed differences over the agenda of the meeting and whether to include the Afghan government in the talks or not.
The US wants the Taliban to announce a two-month ceasefire and insists on the inclusion of the Afghan government in the talks. The Taliban, on the other hand, are willing to discuss three issues only: US withdrawal from Afghanistan, prisoners’ swap, and lifting restrictions on the movement of Taliban leadership.
Taliban have refused to hold talks with the government in Kabul, saying it does not have powers to make decisions. “As we know that the Afghan government doesn’t have the power to make decisions, then why should we waste our time by talking to them,” a local daily quoted a senior Taliban leader as saying on Saturday.
Pakistan is facilitating the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process and has also taken Kabul into confidence. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy Mohammad Omer Daudzai also visited Islamabad earlier this months.
In its efforts for peace in Afghanistan, Islamabad had also arranged an ice-breaking meeting between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government in Murree in 2015. Since then the Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Kabul government.