President Ashraf Ghani’s running mate as his first vice president in the upcoming presidential election, Amrullah Saleh, said on Thursday that the peace negotiating team will not have decision-making authority and that a 15-member team cannot make a decision on a national issue.
The negotiating team, according to government officials, will attend intra-Afghan negotiations which will begin after the US and the Taliban sign an agreement which still needs US President Donald Trump’s approval.
“We [the Afghan government] will dispatch an authorized delegation for negotiations,” Mr. Saleh said. “The team will hold talks there but will not make decisions. The decisions should be taken by the Loya Jirga [Grand Assembly] of Afghanistan and the Afghan parliament.”
Mr. Saleh, who addressed a campaign rally in Kabul, said the negotiating team will only undertake the talks with the Taliban.
The staunch anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistan veteran, who also served as head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) under former President Hamid Karzai’s government, said it is impossible to impose the thoughts of Quetta Shura, Taliban’s main decision making authority based in Pakistan, on the people of Afghanistan.
“We will not allow the masked ring of the Quetta Shura to dominate the future of the dignified women of Afghanistan,” Mr. Saleh said.
He said the Afghan government will not sign what he described it a “shameful and disgraceful” agreement” and that Afghans are ready to render any type of sacrifices for their country.
Mr. Saleh also said that the peace process is a “plot” that is aimed at “dividing” Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, President Ghani’s senior advisor Waheed Omer said the Afghan government has serious concerns about a “potential, partial and relative” peace deal.
“There are serious concerns that this agreement could bring a bad outcome for the Afghan people,” he said. “There is more to the process than only the formation of the negotiating team.”
He said in a tweet that some of the details of the US-Taliban agreement need serious debate and revision.
“For now, it is more about the US and Taliban deal and its implications for Afghanistan. Let’s debate that for now,” Mr. Omer added.
This comes at a time that the US Special Reconciliation for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has been pressing the Afghan political leadership to finalize the negotiating team.