KABUL - The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) on Monday welcomed the finalization of a Pakistan-US commission to negotiate with the Taliban, dismissing suggestions that Afghanistan has been pushed to the side.
Despite Afghan and US officials repeatedly saying that Afghanistan should take the lead in the negotiations with the Taliban, the HPC's international relations adviser Mohammad Ismael Qasemyar said he sees the committee as something positive.
"We are cautiously optimistic because without cooperation from Pakistan and the United States, reaching a sustainable peace will be difficult," Qasemyar told TOLOnews on Monday. "Afghanistan is not being pushed to the sides of the talks," he added.
The new committee was finalized during the visit of Marc Grossman, US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, to Pakistan on Sunday after months of discussion on the matter.
Details on the committee were not disclosed but Paksitani newspaper The Express Tribune reported sources saying it "will identify [insurgent] groups for reconciliation and facilitate smooth transition of power following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan".
The failure of Kabul in doing enough to bring the 'armed opposition groups' to the negotiating table has been frequently criticized and is what one political analyst says is the reason the Afghan government is being left out of the committee.
"Unfortunately, Afghanistan's delays and failure to follow-up the peace programs has led to their attempts having no outcomes," Jawid Kohistani told TOLOnews.
Kabul's insistence on leading peace talks with the Taliban over the past years have met with no response from the Taliban which has constantly refused to negotiate with the Karzi-led government. The Taliban agreed to talks with the US but later withdrew its agreement after saying that its set precondition of releasing imprisoned Taliban at US military prison in Guantanamo Bay was not met. (Tolo News)