Taliban office in Qatar a step towards Afghan peace but not end of crisis   2012-01-04 19:45:49            

by Abdul Haleem, Yangtze Yan

KABUL, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Taliban militants' intimation to open a liaison office in the Gulf state of Qatar for talks with the international community to find peaceful solution for Afghan crisis can pave the way for dialogues with the Afghan government but cannot solve the turmoil, Afghan analysts believe.

"Since there are so many groups who are against any kind of talks and reconciliation with the Afghan government and the United States, these groups will certainly intensify their attacks and we might expect bloody years from now until 2014 because these groups will do everything possible to undermine this reconciliation process," political observer Haroun Mir told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Both U.S. and NATO leaders said that the alliance would continue to support the Afghan government after the completion of security transition to Afghan forces and pull out of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Mir, who is the director of Kabul-based think-tank Afghanistan' s Center for Research and Policy Studies, was however of the view that Taliban's announcement to open office in Qatar to facilitate talks is a breakthrough towards peace.

"I think we could say it is a big breakthrough because we have been in a stalemate militarily and politically in Afghanistan, the U.S. military operations have not changed the situation permanently to ensure lasting peace," said the eminent analyst.

The Afghan government has several times offered talks with Taliban but the outfit repeatedly rejected the offer, noting there will be no talks in the presence of foreign troops in the country.

Taliban outfit has pre-conditioned any talks with the withdrawal of NATO-led forces from Afghanistan, a condition unacceptable to Kabul and Washington at the moment.

The government of Afghanistan suspended peace talk efforts with the Taliban after the assassination of Afghan peace chief negotiator and former President Burhanudin Rabbani in last September.

A suicide bomber disguised as Taliban emissary blew himself up on Sept. 20 in Rabbani's house killed him on the spot. In a sharp reaction, the Afghan government accused both Taliban leadership and Pakistan of plotting and suspended the peace efforts.

Meantime in last November, the traditional Loya Jirga or grand assembly, attended by more than 2,300 chieftains, notables, lawmakers and government functionaries in Kabul recommended government for resuming talks with the Taliban.

Mir was also of the view that continued military pressure on Taliban and their foreign supporters have played a key role in forcing Taliban to accept talks.

"I think the military pressure on Taliban and the U.S. pressure on Pakistan and combination of all these pressures forcing Taliban to compromise when it comes to reconciliation with the United States," the analyst further opined.

The United States, according to media reports, has suspended both the release of 700 million U.S. dollar aid to Pakistan and the handover of F-16 jet fighters Pakistan has already paid.

"We are ready to have a political office overseas and in this regard we have reached preliminary understanding with Qatar and other relevant sites," the Taliban outfit said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

It said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the name of the ousted Taliban regime) has also demanded the release of its prisoners from U.S. detention center in Guantanamo. Several Taliban key leaders and commanders are said to have been held in the Guantanamo prison.

Taliban in the statement also pointed out that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States of America are the two sides involved in Afghanistan issue over the past 10 years.

Holding talks with Taliban in fact gives the impression that Taliban is a political force involved in Afghan imbroglio, another analyst argued.

"In my opinion, holding talks with Taliban would not help bring peace to Afghanistan, rather gives the outfit political legitimacy against which the United States launched the war on terror 10 years ago," said Nazari Pariani, the editor-in-chief of Mandegar, an influential Afghan daily in Dari language.

In addition, he was skeptical about taming Taliban and finding peaceful settlement to Afghanistan crisis through dialogue with Taliban militants in Qatar.

"In no way the situation will get improved after holding talks with Taliban in Qatar, as there are so many factions within the insurgents that are against dialogue and would continue to fight," Pariani told Xinhua.

Special Report: Afghanistan Situation

Editor: Yamei Wang
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