KABUL: Afghanistan’s chief negotiator in peace talks said on Tuesday that he was hopeful Taliban militants would join the process, but warned that public support would wane if there were no quick results.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai said the meeting in Islamabad on Monday had mainly been intended to set a framework for the process before a meeting in Kabul on Jan 18 to draw up a roadmap for talks with the Taliban.

The key question remains whether the Taliban, divided as a result of the leadership dispute which broke out last year but increasingly successful on the battlefield, will participate in the process, which is backed by Pakistan, the United States and China.

“After 30 years of war, I think they are interested and they are inclined towards joining this process,” Mr Karzai told a news conference in Kabul.

Explore: Afghan reconciliation process: Sartaj kicks off four-nation meeting with four guiding points

A previous round broke down in July after it became known that the group’s founder and leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had actually been dead for two years and his deputy Mullah Akhtar Mansour had been in control.

The news damaged trust between Kabul and Islamabad, which many in Afghanistan believed had participated in the cover-up.

Subsequently appointed leader, Mullah Mansour’s authority has been rejected by a substantial faction led by Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, a former governor of the southern Nimroz province when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan before 2001.

“I think there are some problems among the Taliban themselves. They do not talk with one voice but we have to be open to talk to all of them,” Mr Karzai said.

The last round of talks began while Mansour was in effective command of the Taliban. Militants close to him have said they may consider joining but so far Rasoul’s faction has ruled out participating in any process involving foreign powers.

Next week’s meeting would aim to set up roadmap with a three-stage process covering a pre-negotiations phase, to be followed by direct talks with the Taliban themselves and a final period where an agreement would be implemented.

But Mr Karzai said concrete progress had to be achieved over the coming weeks, in time for beginning of the Persian New Year in March.

“In the next two months, the Afghan people have to see some change,” he said. “The Afghan people and politicians do not have the patience they had last year.”

He warned the Taliban against staying out of the peace process, saying that militants who opted for war would face serious consequences.

Mr Karzai said that all participants at Monday’s meeting wanted to bring “permanent peace” to his country.

He also said the country’s conflict was “not a war between Afghans” and stressed the “involvement of foreign elements”.

Mr Karzai referred to three groups of potential interlocutors — that led by Mullah Mansour; the faction led by Mullah Rasoul, and the Haqqani network.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks since the US and Nato formally ended their combat mission in Afghanistan a year ago, and the militants are battling Afghan security forces on several fronts.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2016

Opinion

Editorial

By-election trends
Updated 23 Apr, 2024

By-election trends

Unless the culture of violence and rigging is rooted out, the credibility of the electoral process in Pakistan will continue to remain under a cloud.
Privatising PIA
23 Apr, 2024

Privatising PIA

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s reaffirmation that the process of disinvestment of the loss-making national...
Suffering in captivity
23 Apr, 2024

Suffering in captivity

YET another animal — a lioness — is critically ill at the Karachi Zoo. The feline, emaciated and barely able to...
Not without reform
Updated 22 Apr, 2024

Not without reform

The problem with us is that our ruling elite is still trying to find a way around the tough reforms that will hit their privileges.
Raisi’s visit
22 Apr, 2024

Raisi’s visit

IRANIAN President Ebrahim Raisi, who begins his three-day trip to Pakistan today, will be visiting the country ...
Janus-faced
22 Apr, 2024

Janus-faced

THE US has done it again. While officially insisting it is committed to a peaceful resolution to the...