Taliban Refuse the Bait—“Peace Talks” Crumbling

QCG Fails To Entice Taliban

Sartaz made a call for all groups to join the talks in the next session to be held in Kabul

Dunya News Report (Shahzad Badar)

Representatives of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) comprising China, Afghanistan, USA and Pakistan have met for the third time in Islamabad without the most important partner the Taliban who are to play a pivotal role in reestablishment of peace in the region.
Sartaz Aziz has made a call for all groups to join the talks in the next session to be held in Kabul by end of February.
 The Taliban so far are reluctant to join any peace talks initiated under the QCG umbrella as their demands for unfreezing their assets and removal of their names from the UN blacklist has not yet been taken care off. Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has categorically refused to release any Taliban prisoners or accept their preconditions for the talks.
Despite a ray of hope emerging from the meeting of Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard G Olson and China’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Deng Xijun the Taliban have rightly called it a futile, one sided affairs. The Taliban have objected to the presence of the Afghan government and the USA for being on the negotiation table.
Taliban are of the view that these meeting would not produce any results. According to media reports the Taliban want an end to interference from the USA. The Taliban are critical of the presence of US troops in the country and want them to leave which Ghani cannot afford.
Member-countries of the Heart of Asia Process on the sidelines of the conference on Afghanistan, hosted by Pakistan in December last year, formed the Quadrilateral Group to strive to steer out Afghanistan from the decades of violence and establish peace through peaceful means.
Taliban representatives have been notably absent in all the three meetings and analysts caution that any substantive talks are still a long way off.
The Taliban have stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets in Afghanistan as the QCG peace process gains momentum. They hope to conquer as much territory as possible for improving their negotiating powers with the Kabul government – indicating a worsening of the security situation.
Government representatives from Pakistan, USA, China and Kabul are trying hard to persuade the Taliban to discuss a new peace proposal to end the internecine war in Afghanistan.
The players have finally come to a bitter conclusion that there can be no peace in the region unless the Taliban are given their due share in the Afghan government. With the closure of foreign military bases and inability of the Afghan forces to counter Taliban attacks the regional players are now trying hard to negotiate with them.
 Since the departure of the coalition of US and NATO Troops ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) from Afghanistan the Taliban have hit hard and challenged the writ of the Afghan government compelling the Pakistani government to take action on its side of the border to eliminate the non cooperating Taliban. The Zarb-e-Azab has not yet succeeded in wiping the Taliban terror dens but have reduce their areas of influence.
General Raheel Sharif the army chief has been active in engaging and molding the Ashraf Ghani government, giving rise to the resignation of his intelligence chief Ramatullah Nabil who opposed his pro-Pakistan policies. The army chief was pro-active in curtailing the Indians influence who were investing heavily in the country and wanted a share of influence Pakistan’s backyard.
Earlier during the first QCG meeting Sartaj Aziz the PM’s foreign affairs advisor Aziz during the opening session of the quadrilateral group meeting had tried to entice the Taliban with the statement that the talks could commence without any precondition. The Taliban responded with a hard hitting statement by attacking students at the Baccha Khan University in Charssada. The same Taliban had earlier attacked and aroused international condemnation for conducting a ruthless massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar which resulted in the death of 154 people 135 of whom were students.
 The message relayed to the public was that those willing to negotiate would be welcomed while the intransigent group would be dealt with by military force. The Taliban as we see have shown no flexibility in not carrying out their signature deeds. Attacking military, air force, naval bases including civilians mostly shia- the Taliban show no flexibility or interest in holding peace talks.
Over a decade their rule of the game remained unchanged – strike targets in Kabul and Pakistan relentlessly. Afghans and defence analyst criticize the early departure of the US troops which resulted in the closure of 700 bases and emboldened the terrorist groups to strike targets with impunity and without remorse.
Even after the school and university massacre Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president prefers calling the Taliban his “political opponents”.
The former terrorists, now “political opponents” have recently responded with a hard list of demands which included the lifting of UN-led sanctions and the release of prisoners.
Following their informal meeting with Afghan government officials in Doha, Qatar, Taliban spokespeople have made it clear they want to be removed from the UN blacklist. The UN sanctions that are in effect include assets freeze and travel bans.
International efforts are under way to offer some form of legitimacy to the Taliban office based in Qatar. The Afghan government had always protested against the existence of the Taliban overseas office and rejected its demands for negotiations as unacceptable.