WASHINGTON: As five members of the Afghan Taliban joined the group’s political office in Qatar, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis declared that reconciliation was the most important aspect of the strategy for Afghanistan.
The US media reported on Wednesday that the five officials who were freed from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for captured US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could participate in future talks with officials in Doha.
Senior US officials have already held two rounds of talks with Taliban representatives in Doha. The last round, held earlier this month, led to the release of a key Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
US media identified the five as Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Nori and Mohammad Nabi.
Fazl is a former Taliban army chief. Khairkhwa is a former governor of Herat province and was also close to former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Wasiq was a deputy intelligence minister. Nori was a senior aide to Mullah Omar and Nabi was a Taliban communications officer.
Hakim Mujahed, a former Taliban representative now a member of the Afghan government peace council, told the Associated Press news agency that the presence of the five former Guantanamo prisoners in the Taliban’s Qatar office indicated the Taliban’s resolve to find a peace deal.
“These people are respected among all the Taliban,” said Mujahed. “Their word carries weight with the Taliban leadership and the mujahideen.”
Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2018