• publish: 24 March 2016
  • time: 8:39 pm
  • category: Excerpted
  • No: 3642

High Peace Council expresses hopes for peace talks  

Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) on Thursday expressed hope that the four-nation group comprising senior diplomats from Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China will be able to convene their fifth peace talks meeting by the end of the month – with the Taliban present.

Known as the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), the group has so far held four meetings in Kabul and in Islamabad in a bid to pave the way for the Taliban to endorse a direct talks process with the Afghan government.

However, the Taliban refused to hold face-to-face talks with the Kabul government earlier this month.

As such, the HPC stressed the need for another approach should the QCG fail to get the Taliban to join the negotiations. According to Tolo news.

This statement comes just days after preliminary talks between the Afghan government and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami party took place. The group formally agreed to join the peace process – a development which some analysts believe could persuade the Taliban to reconsider their refusal and join talks with the government.

Initially, the first formal round of face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban was expected to be held in early March in Islamabad. However the talks hit a deadlock after the Taliban refused to join the process unless their preconditions were met.

Amid questions over Pakistan’s honesty in the Afghan peace dialogue process, the HPC called on Pakistan’s two main strategic allies, the United States and China, to use their influence to pressurize Pakistan into supporting the peace process in Afghanistan.

“It looks like Pakistan has convinced the U.S and China to delay the peace process as the war season nears. Pakistan likely wants the war to continue. But the U.S and China must motivate Pakistan to agree to a truce so that talks can be resumed,” HPC member Mohammad Amin Weqad said on Thursday.

However, the HPC said it would take the lead in resuming direct talks with the Taliban if the QCG fails to convince the Taliban to endorse the talks.

“The Quadrilateral Coordination Group has not explained the reasons that delayed the process. But this month will test their strength as to whether it is able to resume the process. But there will be no other option for us except taking the process in our own hands to find the Taliban for talks unless the QCG takes the lead in the process,” Weqad added.

According to the HPC, a delegation of Hizb-e-Islami is currently holding talks with the government in Kabul and the two sides are struggling to seal an agreement which will formally pave the way for the group to join the peace process.

“The negotiations are continuing. Hizb-e-Islami constitutes one of the powerful groups which fights the government. The two sides have convened their preliminary talks, which includes the HPC, we hope that these talks will reach an outcome,” HPC member Maulavi Shafiullah Nuristani said.

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