Jun. 18, 2013 (TSR) – The Afghan militant group Taliban with Qatar’s foreign minister announced in a Doha televised joint press conference on Tuesday that its political office has been opened, which came within hours of NATO handing full control of Afghanistan?s security to Karzai government’s local forces.
Taliban Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, emphasized two points: That the Taliban opposed the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries and that they support an Afghan peace process.
“We support a political and peaceful solution that ends Afghanistan’s occupation, and guarantees the Islamic system and nationwide security,” the statement said.
The spokesman also explained that the new political office, or embassy, is essential to realising its five main objectives which included initiating talks with various countries, the UN and non government organisations to improve relations, holding meetings with Afghans “as times may demand”, and supporting “a political and peaceful solution which includes the end of the occupation of Afghanistan and the establishment of an independent Islamic system”.
The five main objectives of the newly opened office are as follows:
1. To carry out talks for improving relations with other countries.
2. To support a peaceful solution in which Afghanistan’s ‘occupancy’ comes to an end and bring stability into Afghanistan.
3. To have meetings with Afghans officials.
4. To meet and make contacts with the international community, local organizations and non-governmental organisations.
5. To issue statements for the media outlets.
The critical milestone was a precondition laid down by the US for its support for the opening of a political office for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which considers itself the country’s government in exile since the November 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan overthrew its draconian Islamic regime.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants good relations with all countries in the world including neighbouring countries on the basis of mutual respect,” the spokesman said.
But, he added, the organisation considered it its “religious and nationalist duty” to continue fighting foreign invaders in Afghanistan, even as it agreed to begin talks with the US.
The United States has welcomed terrorist Taliban’s decision to open an office in Qatar with US officials hoping to meet with them within days, followed by a meeting between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, set up by President Hamid Karzai to help negotiate an end to the twelve-year long insurgency.
“I think the United States will have its first meeting with the Taliban for several years in a couple of days in Doha,” a senior US official told reporters, dubbing the move the “beginning of a very difficult road.”
The U.S. officials said they hope the negotiations lead to three outcomes: First, the Taliban must break with al-Qaida, second they must stop the violence and third they must “accept Afghanistan’s constitution, including protection for women and minorities.”
Pakistan also welcomed the announcement of the new Taliban political office in Doha “for the purpose of bringing peace to Afghanistan and the region,” according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The MOFA statement also welcomed the start of peace talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai while talking at a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, told reporters that the start of peace negotiations in Qatar is acceptable but emphasized on continuing the talks in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that during peace negotiations with the Taliban, country’s national interest will be considered and emphasized that once the peace talk begins ‘Taliban violence’ will come to an end.
“With the opening of office, the peace negotiations between High Peace Council and Taliban must start soon. Once talks start in Qatar the process should be transferred to Afghanistan immediately,” President Karzai said.
However, Taliban has repeatedly refused to talk with the Afghan government, instead showed their interest to negotiate with Washington. But, few questions loom large- with the opening of Taliban’s office in Qatar will violence stop in the country and will Taliban cooperate in the peace process?
“The opening of this office will benefit Afghanistan and peace talks will be accelerated. Opening of this office is an urgent need,” Sayed Akbar Agha, former leader of Jaish al-Muslimeen group said.
The US-led international combat mission i.e invasion is due to wind down next year, with Afghanistan still in the grip of fighting.
This is the first official Afghan representation since 2001.
In July 2001, the United States broke off their oil negotiations with the Taliban in Berlin and declared war. One month later, Washington and London relocated their expeditionary forces to the Gulf of Oman. In September, the Tajik leader Massoud was assassinated. Subsequently, President Bush accused the Taliban of harboring those responsible for the attacks that bereaved Americans. In October, the United States and the United Kingdom attacked Afghanistan in “self-defense“.
A Taliban political office has been under discussion since 2011, but it always got delayed because of differences between the Group and Afghan government. Senior Taliban figures have been living in Doha for many months, but it is the first official assent by the group to resuming peace talks since they broke off preliminary discussions with US representatives last year.
The opening of this office is the result of negotiations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Qatar, that concluded on April 2.
The Taliban have ruled Afghanistan under their strict policies for five years, between 1996 and 2001.
The Taliban is also notorious for their brutal treatment of women and young girls. They punished women cruelly if they didn’t obey by their rules. They cut off women’s finger tips if they wore nail polish and lashed and tortured those who sought education above the age of eight.
Today, the Taliban has been ousted from power but has re-surfaced as a non-state terrorist entity within Afghanistan.
Since 2001, the Taliban has murdered NGO workers, Afghan civilians, government officials, and policemen, among others.
According to reports, the Qatari government attempts to bring Taliban closer due to the latest activities of the terrorist groups in Syria.
The Syrian government has been providing evidences of Qatar government’s supports of the terrorist and militant groups in Syria, from training them to equipping them with arms.
However smaller armed groups in Syria have been voicing commitment to al-Qaeda and so Qatar’s ambitions to make closer ties with Taliban are seen as a compensation for losing its influence on these militant groups.
US stances towards Taliban have always been under question among Middle Eastern countries.