Japan Conference on peace-building in Afghanistan

Create: 06/27/2012 - 23:16

KABUL (Pajhwok): Taliban and Afghan government representatives, while sticking to their guns,met at an international conference in Tokyo on June 27-28, 2012, indicating their rare willingness to discuss prospects for dialogue and peace in the war-torn country.
Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, a member of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and High Peace Council (HPC) Secretary Masoom Stanikzai sat together for direct talksat the conference on peace-building in Afghanistan, organised by Doshisha University’s Graduate School of Global Studies.
Speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News, Masanori Naito, a professor of Islamic Studies who is also dean of the school, called the event a ground-breaking initiative, where the Taliban made their argument in a systematic manner. "I believe the occasion served as an opportunity that could possibly lead to peace talks."
Hanif, who held ministerial posts until the Taliban were ousted from power as a result of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, demanded early withdrawal of foreign troops as a precondition for discussing a ceasefire with the Hamid Karzai administration.
Planning minister during the Taliban regime, he said: "If America does not show honesty in its dealings and continues to resort to pretexts to prolong its occupation in the name of this strategic agreement, it will clearly indicate that the US wants to create new hurdles in the way of finding a solution to the issue."
Chief peace negotiator Salahuddin Rabbani had then hailed the public contact as an indication that the Taliban were backing off their demand that Americans be the main interlocutors in any talks. But the Talibaninsisted that their policies had not shifted, implying theyhad no intention of talking to the government.
Also on the US blacklist, Haniftravelled to Japan from Qatar to represent the insurgent movement at the conference. Hezb-i-Islami leader Ghairat Baheer, Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef and several other members of the High Peace Council also attended the meeting.
Hanif, Baheer and Zaeef reportedly presented their peace strategies to the participants, with Stanikzai highlighting the need for peace in the country. Rabbani said the meeting was a brainstorming session and not a huddle to take action. Changes to election laws and the constitution, aimed to encourage greater decentralisation, came up for discussion.
Stanikzai urged participation of all groups to move toward cease-fire talks, but Mohammad insisted a pullout of foreign troops remained a key condition. Hanifassessed his attendance in a positive light, saying the event enabled the Taliban to spell out their position.