A senior US diplomat has told President Ashraf Ghani that US officials will no longer deal with his national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib, Reuters news agency reports, quoting four knowledgeable US and Afghan sources.
The report published on March 18 said the diplomat told President Ghani that the United States was ending contacts with Mr. Mohib.
According to Reuters, the State Department declined to comment, and a representative of the Afghan Embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment.
Mohib in a Washington news conference on March 14 accused the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad of “delegitimizing” the Kabul government by excluding it from peace negotiations with the Taliban and acting like a “viceroy”. He also said that the US has created an information vacuum regarding the peace talks with the Taliban.
According to the Reuters report, the day after Mohib made his comments, David Hale -- the US undersecretary of state for political affairs -- told Ghani by phone that Mohib would no longer be received in Washington and that US civilian and military officials would not do business with him.
“Hale called Ghani and told him that Mohib is no longer welcome in DC. The US will not deal with him in Kabul or in DC anymore,” said a former senior Afghan official who requested anonymity, according to Reuters report.
The former official said he saw the move as an effort to pressure Ghani to fire Mohib.
The remarks by the National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on the peace efforts by the US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad met with more reactions, but some analysts supported his stance.
Presidential candidate Shaida Mohammad Abdali labeled the remarks “emotional” and said such comments are not in favor of the country.
“Taking stances on behalf of the Afghan government should not be based on emotions but should be based on the national interests. During my 18 years of mission in government, I witnessed many sentimental stances of such kind. Today, we should learn a lesson from them,” said Abdali.
The office of presidential candidate Haneef Atmar said in a statement that Mohib’s remarks contradicted the peace efforts and an intra-Afghan dialogue.
“It not only was against the peace process and an intra-Afghan dialogue but revealed the sabotage and government’s face,” said Qadir Shah, a spokesman for Atmar’s office.
Some political analysts and MPs, however, supported Mohib’s remarks and said he revealed the realities on the ground about the peace talks.
“Mohib has revealed some realities, but due to disorders in Afghanistan, we cannot challenge with the Americans, because there are other enemies waiting for an opportunity,” university lecturer Ahmad Saeedi said.
“If the country and government and sovereignty belong to us, then at least, we should be counted. This was an objection to show that the Americans should not continue the (peace) talks in this way. And Americans’ misunderstanding from these remarks again shows their selfishness,” MP Zakaria Zakaria said.
The former US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman, meanwhile, said that issues like this should not put a negative impact on bilateral ties.
The fifth round of the talks between the US and Taliban negotiators in Qatar ended after 16 days on March 12 with agreement in draft between the two sides on some key issues under debate.
Hours after the news broke on Qatar talks, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in a tweet that he wrapped up a marathon round of talks with Taliban in Doha.
Khalilzad said peace requires agreement on four issues: counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.
“In January talks, we “agreed in principle” on these four elements. We’re now “agreed in draft” on the first two,” he said in a tweet.
He said the conditions for peace have improved and that it is clear all sides want to end the war. “Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides,” he said.
Khalilzad said when the agreement in draft about a withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures is finalized, the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire.