‘Internal peace process yet to take off in Afghanistan’

Helping hand:Mr. Mohib said any effort that helped build an “intra-Afghan” dialogue process was welcome.AFPFABRICE COFFRINI

Helping hand:Mr. Mohib said any effort that helped build an “intra-Afghan” dialogue process was welcome.AFPFABRICE COFFRINI  

Taliban is divided and the factionalism is evident in the way the outfit has held talks with various outside players in the dialogue process, a senior representative of the Afghanistan government has said.

National Security Adviser of Afghanistan Hamdullah Mohib said during a visit here that Kabul was firming up its military power while remaining committed to an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace process. He said there could be no deadline for the peace process as the “intra-Afghan” peace dialogue is yet to take shape.

“So far, the teams that the Taliban sent for talks in Abu Dhabi, Moscow, or in Qatar have revealed that there are many factions in the group. They sent different people for different dialogues. The Taliban should appoint a single negotiating team first,” said Mr. Mohib, interacting with a group of journalists here on Saturday.

Ongoing conflict

He acknowledged that the government of President Ashraf Ghani had “contacts” in the Taliban and that it had held “proximity talks” when the group’s representatives came to Abu Dhabi. The NSA, however, made it clear that the government of Afghanistan was yet to begin formal dialogue with the Taliban as a violent military conflict with the group carried on in several parts of the country. Mr. Mohib said the need of the moment was to create a stage that would support an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace process that he described as “intra-Afghan” dialogue but could not specify how such a scenario would emerge with military battles raging between the two sides.

Different parts of Afghanistan have witnessed heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban in the past few months even as the regional process of dialogue has continued with the initiative of the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More recently, Iran and Turkey have also extended a helping hand in building terms of a dialogue between the two warring sides.

India, however, does not have formal contact with the Taliban as it maintains friendly bilateral ties with the government in Kabul which has emerged as a strategic partner.

Mr. Mohib said any effort that helped build an “intra-Afghan” dialogue process was welcome when asked about the role that India could play in facilitating peace between the two sides.

Airborne deterrent

He said the government in Kabul was strengthening its military power and an essential part of this was the creation of a credible Air Force which would allow it to maintain military domination across the country after the expected U.S. withdrawal. According to the NSA, who held talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on January 5, Afghanistan intends to acquire 315 military aircraft that will support its military operations as well as medical emergency requirements.

Mr. Mohib reiterated Kabul’s continued support for India’s fight against cross-border terrorism, and said his country would not allow any foreign group, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba, to create bases in the areas that bordered Pakistan.

“We do not make distinction between terrorist groups,” he said in response to India’s concerns.

Recommended for you