QATAR DIALOGUE MAY BRING PEACE TO AFGHANISTAN

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‘Pakistan is playing a key role’, Qatari official

Zahid Malik

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 – Doha—Though the last week’s Qatar moot which all the stakeholders were reluctant to describe as a formal dialogue between Taliban and other stakeholders, remained inconclusive but it could be taken as a positive step towards ultimate peace in Afghanistan.

Squeezing time out of the high-profile Doha Forum inaugurated by the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, I interacted with some of those who were directly or indirectly engaged in the two-day Qatar talks between the representatives of Taliban and the Ashraf Ghani-led Afghan Government, the next round of which is likely to be held in the UAE next month. It can be said, with some degree of confidence that the ongoing dialogue may ultimately culminate into the much-desired peace process in Afghanistan. The road to peace is always bumpy and demands extra patience, perseverance and unwavering commitment for destination, and so is the case in the Afghanistan scene which has seen, in the recent decades, many hopes and shattering of these hopes. It may not be out of context to admit that all previous efforts to launch formal peace talks failed.

A source of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that according to its perception, the ongoing contact between the Taliban and Afghan Government was a formal reconciliation interaction; but, as he said, the Taliban were adamant that these talks should not be construed in any way, as peace process or negotiations or talks.

They met face-to-face, talked to each other, exchanged pleasantries but they were tight lipped when they emerged out of the meeting this time held at Al-Khor, a seaside town, north of Doha. They also refused to talk to the waiting media.

Another official closely associated with the dialogue process, looked optimistic when he said that giving a formal shape to the ongoing informal interaction was not far away from the peace objective, as this time the authorities gave their demands and conditions in writing to each other and distributed its copies among other participants. “Observers from some other countries including the US, Pakistan and China were also present”, he said.

What is worth mentioning for the Pakistani readers is that Pakistan’s supportive stance and persuasion in many direct and indirect ways to all concerned ‘to concede a little for something big’ was being appreciated by all the parties. “Pakistan is playing a key role in bringing normalcy to Afghanistan,” the source said. He was confident that it was for the first time in the history of Afghan-Pakistan relations that the Establishment of Pakistan has established by words and actions that they were for non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and this was a welcome development. “Pakistan has emerged as a formidable force in the region which cannot be bypassed in any way,” a Qatari official attending the Doha Forum said. Perhaps it has now been finally realized by the US and its allies as well as the incumbent Afghan Government that the Talibanwhose hardline Islamist regime was ousted from power in 2001 have to be pacified and compensated. A miracle could also happen and the Taliban may join the Ashraf Ghani Government if all goes as planned.