PESHAWAR: Preliminary talks held recently by the US and the Hizb-i-Islami resistance group of Afghanistan meant ice was breaking between them and that would create opportunity for more meaningful talks in the future, said Ghairat Baheer, political adviser to the group’s leader Gulbadin Hikmatyar, here on Tuesday.
“We have not received any positive response so far, but we favour meaningful dialogue with the Americans,” he told a conference titled “The Afghan Issue: Regional Implications and Suggestions for Sustainable Peace”.
The conference was organised by the Centre for Discussions and Solution, a think-tank headed by former chief of Jamaat-i-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmad.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Awami National Party provincial chief Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, former spymasters, bureaucrats, intellectuals and journalists from Pakistan and Afghanistan attended the conference, arranged at a time when the US and Taliban started talks in Qatar. Mr Baheer said that he met CIA chief Gen (retired) David Petraeus, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Nato Commander John R. Allen on recent visit to Kabul and discussed with them the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.
“We have realised that Americans have no solution for the Afghan issue. Despite that, Hizb-i-Islami is ready to continue talks,” he said, adding that the core issue was withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
He said that Karzai government would fall after withdrawal of Nato forces.
“Let us discuss a comprehensive package for Afghanistan,” he proposed and warned that the region would suffer if the US did not leave Afghanistan. He said that Afghan nation should get a fair opportunity to elect its government freely. He urged America, Russia and its allies to support peace process in Afghanistan.
Maulana Fazl supported negotiations between America and Taliban, saying that other powers should support peace process. He said that flawed policies had isolated Pakistan and Taliban had been handed over to America.
“Pakistan was the looser when Soviet Union was withdrawing its force from Afghanistan in 1989. Pakistan is once again at the receiving end because of widening gulf between Pakistan and its allies,” he said and added that Islamabad had been trapped. He said that immediate priority should be to pull Afghans from war and then discuss other issues.
The JUI chief said that his party supported peace talks between Taliban and Washington provided it brought sustainable peace to Afghanistan and urged all Afghan factions to start dialogue.
Maulana Fazl also stressed the warring factions to negotiate with President Karzai. He said that Taliban had committed blunders when they captured Kabul. “I told Taliban leaders at that time that they did not form government but occupied Kabul,” he remarked.
Afghan intellectuals and journalists criticised the role of Pakistani establishment and demanded that Islamabad should stop interference and help peace process to end the decades old bloody game in the region.
“Pakistani policymakers should choose for us what they like for themselves,” said Mir Waiz, an Afghan journalist. He added that Pakistani policymakers disliked Talibanisation in their country while support the same phenomenon in Afghanistan which was unfair.
Former chief of Inter Services Intelligence Gen (retired) Hameed Gul said that America bypassed Pakistan and started talks with Taliban in Qatar. He was sceptical about peace talks in Qatar. He said that Islamabad should change its US-centric policy and act upon joint resolutions of the parliament.
Gen (retired) Asad Durrani, former Afghan interim prime minister Eng Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, former chief secretary Gulzar Khan, Brig (retired) Mahmood Shah and others also spoke on the issue.
A joint declaration issued on the occasion said that a durable settlement of the Afghan conflict required an ‘Afghan solution’.
“A solution imposed by the foreigners cannot yield long-term peace. In this pursuit of an all-Afghan solution for stability, the international community should truly commit to the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs of Afghanistan,” said the declaration.
It said that Afghanistan could not be allowed to remain a playground for perpetuating foreign occupation or promoting global and regional hegemonic motives.
“The time has come that the international community rise to fulfil its obligations towards Afghanistan,” it added. The foreign forces should withdraw and an intra-Afghan political settlement is reached through participation of all Afghans. The destiny of Afghanistan belongs to Afghans.
It called for instituting a fully inclusive reconciliation process to facilitate the intra-Afghan settlement in accordance with the religious, cultural and tribal values of the Afghan society. “It is vital that the process should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan driven,” the declaration said.