Taliban Peace Talks Without Mullah Mansour Are Meaningless

Interview: Taliban leader’s participation in talks essential to success of Afghan peace process: provincial police chief

Xinhua net

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) — The Kandahar police chief and strongman of Afghanistan’s southern region, General Abdul Raziq, has linked the success of the Afghan peace talks to the participation of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor and top leaders of Haqqani network in the coming peace dialogue.

“No talks would deliver unless and until Taliban top leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor and Sarajudin Haqqani attend it,” General Raziq told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

Arch rival of Taliban militants in the troubled Kandahar and neighboring Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan provinces, Raziq, who is also chief of military operational in the volatile southern region, observed that the Afghan government, besides continuing the peace efforts, should also get military preparation in winter to face Taliban threats in the coming spring and summer.

“Taliban by staying away from talks, virtually bought time to regroup in winter and launch bloody offensives in the spring and summer,” the officer said.

The first round of face-to-face talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government under the mediation of Islamabad was held in Pakistan in July 2015.

However, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, who succeeded Mullah Mohammad Omar after his death was confirmed last August, termed the peace talks as “meaningless” practice and halted the process.

Nonetheless, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States, in efforts to revive the stalled talks, have held two rounds of meeting earlier this month.

The third round of the quadrilateral talks is scheduled for Feb. 6 in Pakistan to revive the stalled talks and work out a roadmap to bring the Taliban outfit to the negotiating table and find a political solution to Afghanistan’s lingering conflict.

General Raziq, who has been for the past few years fighting Taliban insurgents to evict them from Kandahar and Zabul provinces, said catiously, “I am praying for the return of lasting peace through negotiation in its earliest.”

However, he said with observation that the Taliban’s reluctance to participate in the talks would overshadow the ongoing peace process.

Although the Afghan government is desperately working to bring Taliban to the negotiating table, the armed outfit militants and Haqqani network have yet to give the green light to join the peace talks.