Selected Articles from Various News Paper: Civil Services Mentor Magazine April 2013


Moving forward to go back

Persistent efforts by multiple western players finally paid
off. The Taliban and the Kabul government met officially in Chantilly, a suburb
of Paris, on December 20 and 21 under the aegis of a French think tank called
the Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique. The Taliban was represented by
senior leaders Shahabuddin Dilawar, former Taliban ambassador to Saudi Arabia,
and Naeem Wardak — both based in Doha.

The government side was represented by the Higher Peace
Council chairman Salahuddin Rabbani. Also participating were Yunus Qanuni, the
ideologue of the opposition National Coalition of Afghanistan led by Abdulla
Abdulla, Ahmad Zia Massoud, brother of the legendary Tajik commander Ahmad Shah
Massoud, as well as representatives of the hardline Hizb-ul- Islam of Gulbuddin
Hikmatyar. In all, there were about 20 delegates participating in the talks.

For an understanding

It is noteworthy that the Kabul delegation included a
sprinkling of non- Pashtun tribes — Massoud, a Tajik, Mohaqqeq, a Hazara leader,
and Faizullah Zaki, an Uzbek. Mr. Massoud said there was a new generation which
did not believe in war and sought an understanding with the Taliban. The
Taliban, for its part, clarified in no uncertain terms that no negotiations with
anyone were involved and that the Taliban “wants the world community to listen
to our goals;” in other words, the Taliban approached the Paris talks as a
platform to air its ideology and demands. A few weeks prior to the Chantilly
meeting, Kabul had disclosed a ‘Peace Process Roadmap’ consisting of five steps,
which sought to outline a vision in which, by 2015, the Taliban, the
Hizb-e-Islami and other armed groups will have given up armed opposition. There
is reason to believe that this ‘roadmap 2015’ is a joint Afghan-Pakistan draft,
prepared in close consultation with the United States. The ‘roadmap’ assumes
that all the armed insurgencies will have transformed themselves into political
groups and will actively participate in the political and constitutional
process, including national elections. The first step focuses on securing
Pakistan’s collaboration which would include Pakistan releasing specific Taliban

Pakistan has already repatriated several mid-level Taliban
prisoners and might release Mullah Baradar. The second step envisages direct
talks with the Taliban, which Pakistan should facilitate, in Saudi Arabia in the
first half of 2013. Step three calls for ceasefire and transformation of the
Taliban into a political party. The final steps include securing peaceful end to
the conflict during the first half of 2014 and moves to sustain the long-term
stability of Afghanistan and the region. Lip service is paid in the ‘roadmap’ to
the principles of respect for the Afghan constitution and renunciation of ties
with al-Qaeda.

A concession

This was the first time senior Taliban representatives sat
down with the government and other opposition groups. This, in a way, amounts to
a concession by the Taliban which had, thus far, refused to talk to the Kabul
government which it did not regard as legitimate. There was no joint statement
after the Chantilly meeting. In the words of the sponsoring think tank, the
objective was to encourage the Afghans to “project themselves towards the
horizon of 2020.” 

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