Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said in response to a planned meeting between the Taliban’s negotiating team and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan – scheduled for February 18 – that Islamabad is merely trying to convey the message that the Taliban are not based in Pakistan.
This announcement was made on Wednesday by the Taliban who said the next round of talks between US officials and the group will be held in Doha on February 25.
The Taliban’s statement also said that another meeting, at the formal invitation of Pakistan, has been scheduled for February 18 and will be attended by the Taliban team and the US’s team, led by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad.
The Taliban statement said the group’s team will also meet with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and will discuss Afghanistan-Pakistan relations and issues around Afghan refugees.
In reaction to this, Abdullah said by inviting the Taliban, Islamabad wants to prove the group’s members are based outside of Pakistan and that they will have to travel there for the meeting.
Abdullah went on to say that this was not true as Taliban leaders and the group’s councils are based in Pakistan andthat at any time, Pakistan can order the group to enter into negotiations.
“Pakistan by this move wants to exonerate itself (that Taliban are not in Pakistan) that Taliban representatives are outside of Pakistan and now come to Pakistan to negotiate with us. All the leaders of the Taliban and their councils are in Pakistan and they are active there.
“If Pakistan wants to recommend anything, they can contact influential individuals from Taliban leadership and give them necessary guiding,” said Abdullah.
Wahid Muzhda, an Afghan political activist meanwhile said some of the Taliban members who will attend theIslamabad meeting are not members of the Taliban’s Qatar office.
“For this meeting, some individuals are named who are not members of Qatar office. Mr Amir Khan Muttaqi, head of Mullah Haibatullah’s office; Mawlawi Abdul Latif Mansur and son of Mawlawi Khalis are the people who have recently been added to the team and they are down to attend the meeting,” said Muzhda.
Meanwhile, a week after the Moscow talks were held, between a number of Afghan politicians and Taliban representatives, the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) discussed the talks with a number of Moscow representatives, Russia’s deputy ambassador in Kabul and officials from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Russian deputy ambassador to Afghanistan Albert Khorev criticized the Afghan government for lodging a complaint with the UN over Taliban members traveling to Moscow.
Khorev said the Taliban delegation was in Moscow three months before the talks and they were in Abu Dhabi one and half months before the talks, but the Afghan government did not react on either of those occasions.
“(Afghan government) has sent a complaint letter to the UN about the presence of Taliban at the Moscow meeting. Three months ago, the delegation was in Moscow and one and a half months ago were in Abu Dhabi and the government did not react,” said Khorev.
Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister Nasir Ahmad Andisha said in response that it is up to Afghanistan when to lodge such a complaint.
“This is a sovereign right of a state when to object and when not to and no one can ask why we did not object (in the past),” said Andisha.
Khorev meanwhile said he did not know how Taliban members entered Russia.
“We do not have any information about Taliban’s visas, who had given them visas or where they entered Moscow,” said Khorev.
One delegate who attended the Moscow talks, Fawzia Kofi, said Taliban had an interesting stance about women and rejected reports that she had said they had a “good stance”.
“Nowhere did I say they had a good stance against women, but said interesting stance and there are differences between good and interesting. And it was interesting because they said when girls mature, then they have the right to choose their husbands, even without the agreement of their families,” said Kofi.
Following the Moscow talks in which the participants issued a nine article declaration, the Afghan government complained to the UN that some members of the group’s delegation were on the UN blacklist – and therefore prohibited to travel.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry said they had not received any official invitation letter regarding the Taliban and Khalilzad’s next round of meetings in Qatar, scheduled for February 25.