ISLAMABAD: A day after the Afghan Taliban called for a ‘political office’, the Afghan government opposed the proposal which could prove to be a setback to the ongoing peace process in the country.
This would be the second time that the Afghan Taliban have called for a political office. The first Taliban ‘political office’ was closed down soon after opening in the Qatari capital of Doha in after the then Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, objected to a plaque on the building inscribed with ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’, a name the Taliban used for their regime in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 and a white flag hoisted atop the building.
In a two-day meeting with a delegation of the government-backed peace council and other prominent Afghan personalities, representatives of the Afghan Taliban demanded re-opening and recognition of their office in Qatar.
“We need a place of contacts, in the form of an office to carry out talks,” a Taliban statement read out during the unofficial talks in Qatar.
“Presently, the Islamic Emirate does not have a formal address for holding peace talks which we believe is an essential requirement,”
The Afghan government, however, opposed Taliban’s request for an office to be used as its foreign ministry, saying that Afghanistan has a ‘legitimate government.’
“The position of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is very clear about the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan office,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ahmad Shakeb Mustaghni said told The Express Tribune.
“It is one state and one legal government which enjoys the support of the people of Afghanistan who want a single state with one government,” Mustaghani continued.
Adding to the list of demands, head of the eight-member Taliban delegation during a meeting organised by the Canadian-based Pugwash group, expressed the need for a political office
During his weekly briefing in Kabul, Mustaghni said that the representatives of the Afghan government were also invited to the Qatar meeting but they did not attend as the talks as they were unofficial.
A senior member of the High Peace Council, Ismail Qasimyar told a news agency that in order to establish peace and stability in the country, the government must accept some of the demands made by Taliban.
However, Qasimyar asserted that no decision has yet been taken with regards to Taliban’s demand for an office in Qatar.
Taliban insist that “organized meetings regarding peace can only be held in an office-like vicinity. It is equally necessary for the office to issue press releases related to peace, to answer questions and remove the anxieties of people.”