The Afghan government and the Taliban were willing to conduct purposeful peace negotiation talks in Pakistan in 2007 and again in 2009, but the Pakistani government and Pakistan’s intelligence service (ISI) sabotaged the peace process between the two sides, a New York Times report has quoted a Norwegian diplomat Alf Arne Ramslien as saying.
The New York Times report says that in 2007, the Taliban emissary gave Ramslien a list of five names that Mullah Omar had tasked with exploring the possibility of peace talks with the Afghan government. They needed the help of a facilitator, he said, and Ramslien was it.
However, Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI), has said that there was no doubt over Pakistan’s intention to sabotage the peace process in Afghanistan.
“The people of Afghanistan know the role the Pakistanis are playing in the Afghan peace process, our allies also know it,” MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told TOLOnews.
The New York Times reports states that in May 2008, the Taliban agreed to meet Afghan government representatives and after a brief delay, delegations from both parties arrived in Oslo in November.
According to the Norwegian’s report, they stayed in the same hotel. But a few hours after arriving the home of one of the Taliban negotiators was bombed and his brother was killed and wife wounded.
The New York Times report states that peace efforts continued until 2009 and three Norwegian diplomats met with the Taliban’s then leader Mullah Omar.
According to the report, Mullah Omar was suffering from kidney disease and diabetes at the time.
"He was definitely very sick,” Ramslien said.
"We knew that he had severe diabetes problems. We knew that he had kidney problems. And his talk was slurred."
The report states that Pakisan’s ISI continued to put hurdles in the way of Afghan peace talks. In addition the deployment of thousands of additional U.S troops by the Obama administration also created challenges for the talks.
Pakistan’s crackdown against Mullah Omar’s deputy Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar, who was arrested only a few days before the peace negotiation talks started, was seen as a sign that Pakistan did not want the talks to go ahead.
Later, Obama's agreeing to a military surge of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, in Ramslien's view, was a significant setback to the process, the article stated.
"If they are bombing us from above, we will bomb them from below," was how Ramslien characterized the Taliban's attitude then, according to the New York Times.
“Those Taliban who join the peace process, they love their people and country, but those who reject peace process are slaves of Pakistan,” said a member of the Kunduz provincial council Safiullah Amiri.
“Pakistan is the hub of terrorists and Pakistan itself is sponsor of terrorism,” said civil society activist Mohammad Ibrahim Rahimi.