Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Taliban Hold Consultations Over Next Round of Peace Talks

Taliban Hold  Consultations  Over Next Round  of Peace Talks

KABUL - The Taliban Leader Mullah Haiatullah Akhunzada has invited his political envoys to Pakistan for consultations on peace process with the US, a media report said on Tuesday.
According to the Telegraph, seven members of the Taliban's Doha political office are understood to have arrived in Pakistan earlier this week at the request of Haibatullah Akhunzada.
Their discussions with the leadership will be key in deciding the negotiating stance of the insurgents, ahead of a meeting with American envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
The internal summit also follows the death in a US drone strike at the weekend of a senior Taliban commander who had been opposed to negotiations.
“This is an important trip and will define lots for the Taliban in the next round of peace talks,” a member of the Doha office told the Telegraph.
“We will go word by word through the progress of peace talks with the top leaders. We will get their consultation on many issues to be in a better position in next week talks with Khalilzad”.
The source said it was unclear if the delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai will meet directly with the head of the Taliban. Haibatullah is believed to have rarely contacted his envoys when first taking charge of the movement, but now appeared to be taking a keen interest in negotiations. A Western source confirmed the arrival of the Doha delegation, saying it was at least five strong.
Zalmay Khalilzad, Donald Trump's special envoy to Afghanistan, is visiting countries in the region this week before he is expected to meet the Taliban envoys in Doha.
Pakistan also disclosed on Monday that Mr Trump had asked for the country's help to start negotiations that could end America's longest running war.
Discussions between America and the Taliban so far are understood to have not moved beyond “talks about talks” and confidence-building measures including prisoner releases. The Taliban refuses to talk to the Afghan government, which last week named its own 12-member negotiating team.
The Doha office source said the talks with the Americans were “moving forward but still lots of up and down has to be resolved”.
He said “huge differences” remained but “the good point is that we are talking and will keep talking ”.
A US drone on Saturday killed a powerful Taliban military commander who was said to be opposed to talks with the Americans.
Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, the Taliban shadow governor of Helmand, was killed in the province's Nawzad district.
His control of the province's opium crop gave him lavish wealth and independence within the movement, while his tribesmen had a rivalry with those of Haibatullah, said Graeme Smith, a consultant for the International Crisis Group.
“That made Manan a persistent headache for the Taliban leadership, because he did not always respect orders. For example, Manan reportedly was not enthusiastic about the Taliban’s recent decision to engage the United States in peace negotiations. He was also running his own foreign policy to some degree, with his own channels to Iran,” he said.
A former senior Taliban member told the Telegraph that “by coincidence or purpose, the eliminating of Mullah Manan and his other hardline colleagues in Helmand will help the Taliban political team to reach an agreement”. (Pajhwok)