The U.S. piled pressure on Pakistan to persuade the rebel Leaders to negotiate and crack down the Taliban’s safe havens inside Pakistan. Pakistani officials stated these tactics against the insurgents are incompatible. On Monday, Hizb-i-Islami, a party of a former Taliban commander who laid down arms to join Afghan politics and the Taliban held a meeting in Islamabad for peace talks.
The Talibani delegates met the representatives of the head of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan and the Afghan politician Pir Syed Hamid Gilani. Last week, the Taliban’s Haqqani network released 14 Afghan soldiers in the Eastern Province of Paktia as a goodwill gesture ahead of the peace talks. It is said following the Islamabad talks, both the sides held a meet over the weekend in Turkey.
A three member Talibani delegation from Qatar included Shababuddin Dilawar and Jan Mohammad Madani from the Taliban’s political office as well as the brother in law of Mullah Jacoob, son of the late Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar. Both Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami denied participating in the meet held in Turkey. Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid stated the meeting held in Turkey had no legitimate Taliban representatives in attendance.
Mujahid further added, “This is an intelligence game that aims at defaming and damaging the real peace process in Afghanistan.” He also added the real negotiations can only happen once all foreign troops leave the Afghan soil. Two senior Taliban officials said their Supreme Leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada approved Monday’s exploratory meeting in Islamabad on condition of anonymity. It is said they held the talks to end the war that claims lives of thousands of Afghans each year. Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
The U.S. announced a new strategy and stepped up air strikes and boosted assistance to the Afghan Government to force the rebels to the negotiating table. On Wednesday, the U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations stated the new strategy is a success and specifically mentioned possible future direct talks with the Taliban. Haley in a statement said, “The U.S. policy on Afghanistan is working. We are seeing that we’re closer to talks with the Taliban and the peace process than we’ve seen before.”
Haley further added the Afghan officials told the envoys “that since the U.S. strategy is put in place they are starting to see the Taliban concede, they are starting to see them move towards coming to the table.” Haley stated the entire peace process is led and owned by Afghanistan and added, “We don’t think that we need to facilitate the peace process, we think we need to support the peace process.”
It is still unclear if the unofficial meeting between the two bore any fruits. Many previous attempts to hold talks with the Taliban failed. On Wednesday, Afghanistan President Ashar Ghani’s Spokesman stated they were not aware of the Islamabad talks.