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The Afghan Taliban has said it has nothing to do with the 6th meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) slated to be held in Oman on the 16th of this month. The most powerful and formidable group in Afghanistan has thus again iterated its stance of not entering into any kinds of talks with the National Unity Government (NUG).

“Nobody has contacted us, nor are we participating in this meeting. Our stance on talks with the Kabul government remains unchanged. We have nothing to do with this meeting. It is their [member nations] own affair,” a Taliban told Voice of America on conditions of anonymity.

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The 4-member group including the US, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan was initiated in January 2016. However, the process broke down after the fifth meeting in Islamabad in May 2016 after a US drone strike killed the Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. The negotiators will meet in Oman to revive the process which was marred by Taliban’s unwillingness to join the initiative and also the strained ties between Kabul, Islamabad, besides, the changing battlefield dynamics in Afghanistan where the Taliban is holding more territory than what they held at any time during the 16-year long war.

Analysts who have keenly studied and covered the war in Afghanistan are skeptical of how the US will coerce the Taliban into talks, let alone achieve an abstract “victory”.

The Taliban has been consistent in its refusal to enter into any kind of agreement till the presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. However, attempts to restart the QCG are being made at a time when the US, under its new South Asia policy has upped the military ante against the Taliban.

Analysts who have keenly studied and covered the war in Afghanistan are skeptical of how the US will coerce the Taliban into talks, let alone achieve an abstract “victory”. They argue that when 100,000 troops in 2010 could not break the war-fighting capabilities of the Taliban, what could a small addition of 3,900 troops achieve.

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Pakistan has taken to diplomatic engagements ever since the US has mounted pressure on the country for its alleged support to terrorism who are causing ruckus and mayhem in the war-torn country. It is upbeat about the upcoming meeting of the 4-member group. Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif while talking to VOA said: “The quadrilateral arrangement will again be in operation. So, that is something we still hope will… still, work.”

Experts believe that the US wants to prop up China to encourage Pakistan to rein-in the Taliban; however, pundits also believe that Pakistan’s highly-touted influence over the Taliban is fast reducing. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also alluded to it.

Islamabad is not the only country that has taken exceptions to the military-heavy US plan for Afghanistan. Iran, China, and Russia have also openly asserted the need to find a political solution to the simmering crisis.

Read more: Afghanistan: Growing regional consensus between Russia, China, Iran & Pakistan..?

A roadmap needed

GVS approached veteran Afghan affairs expert, Rahimullah Yousafzai to discuss the effectiveness of the 4-nation framework. He said that the four countries first need to set a roadmap for how the Taliban and the NUG will talk with each other. He added that it is important for member-states to iron out their own differences before they can work in tandem.

“At least for our influence on Taliban today, there is a mistrust… perhaps they have more influence from other countries in that region than in our Pakistan,” Asif said referring to Moscow’s growing involvement in Afghanistan.

Islamabad had blamed the US for scuttling the QCG by eliminating Mullah Mansoor last year. Yousafzai believes mistrust needs to be done away with if the forum has to be made effective. “The QCG will not and is not meant to invite the Taliban to the meetings; it is a framework where these countries will devise a mechanism of exerting respective clouts over the Taliban,” Yousafzai said.

Read more: Peaceful Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest: General Zubair

Experts believe that the US wants to prop up China to encourage Pakistan to rein-in the Taliban; however, pundits also believe that Pakistan’s highly-touted influence over the Taliban is fast reducing. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also alluded to it. “At least for our influence on Taliban today, there is a mistrust… perhaps they have more influence from other countries in that region than in our Pakistan,” Asif said referring to Moscow’s growing involvement in Afghanistan.

“The QCG will not and is not meant to invite the Taliban to the meetings; it is a framework where these countries will devise a mechanism of exerting respective clouts over the Taliban,” Yousafzai said.

However, pundits are wary of expanding the QCG because it will make an agreement all the more problematic. According to experts, the Russo-US rivalry, albeit in its nascent stages in Afghanistan, will preclude Russia’s inclusion in the group. Analysts are wary that the military-heavy US policy will offset all related peace overtures especially given the repeated resolve of the Taliban of fighting foreigners.

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