President Karzai’s Qatar Visit
President Hamid Karzai traveled to Qatar on Saturday for peace talks with Taliban representatives and negotiations with Qatari government on opening a political bureau for the militant group. The trip is seen as a major move by the Afghan government for directly persuading the Taliban to come to negotiation table. Aimal Faizi, a spokesman of the Taliban said the delegation would discuss with Qatari government the peace process and opening of Taliban’s Qatar’s political office.
Karzai’s Qatar visit is indicating a major shift in Hamid Karzai’s position on the opening a political office for the Taliban. Initially, Karzai opposed to the US plan for opening an office for the Taliban to be used for negotiation proposes, fearing that the government of Afghanistan might be sidelined in the talks. The effort for persuading Taliban to come into negotiation table is taking place while the Taliban are refusing to come to negotiations with the government of Afghanistan. The militants call the Afghan government as a ‘puppet’ and refuse to directly negotiate with it, insisting on talks with the US and the international community.
It is said that the Afghan President may also have talks with Taliban representatives over the group’s office in the gulf country. While the office of Taliban in Qatar is of crucial importance for the Afghan government, the Taliban have refused to talk with Karzai during his official visit from Qatar. “The opening of the Taliban office in Qatar is not related to Karzai, it is a matter between the Taliban and the Qatar government,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. “Our representatives who are already in Qatar won’t see or talk to him.”
Recently, the government of Afghanistan has hinted moving towards sidelining Pakistan in the peace talks with the Taliban as it is complaining of Islamabad’s complacency and its unacceptable preconditions for luring the militants into the peace plan. Pakistan’s role is considered as crucial in the talks, as it holds influence on the militant’s leaders residing in the country and commanding war in Afghanistan. Afghan officials said recently Islamabad was not cooperating for peace in Afghanistan and they were trying other ways for negotiations with Taliban without help from Pakistan. Pakistanis rejected the claims and said the country is wholeheartedly willing to cooperate with the Afghan peace initiative.
Keeping in view that as the Taliban are refusing to directly talk with Afghan government and Islamabad is still pursuing an unsupportive policy towards peace process, any talks for securing a peace deal would continue to face hurdles, risking a prolonged insurgency in the country. The visit may produce some results particularly in establishing contacts between the Afghan government and making agreement for opening the Taliban political office in the gulf country. But for sure, we cannot expect more than this from the Qatar visit of the Afghan delegation.