The United States is working with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China to bring the Taliban terrorist group to the peace negotiation table, according to Islamabad.
Officially known as the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), the four countries have made similar attempts in the past to persuade the Taliban to participate in face-to-face peace negotiations with the Afghan government, but failed.
In March, the Taliban has said it would not engage in peace talks with the Kabul government because it is winning the war in Afghanistan.
Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the Taliban chief, made the announcement in a statement issued that month in which he called for his jihadist followers to “prepare for decisive strikes against the enemy” and win back estranged Taliban terrorists.
The Taliban is “in a much better state than at any other time,” wrote Mullah Mansour, noting that the jihadist group’s “great conquests in various provinces of the country and this victorious process is still continuing” and urging his fighters to remain “vigilant of future enemy plots.”
Nevertheless, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry is quoted by the Associated Press (AP) as saying negotiations between the QCG and the Taliban were underway in Islamabad Wednesday.
Pakistan has hosted previous meetings between the two groups.
“The development [on the peace talks] comes after the outlawed Afghan group Hezb-e-Islami signaled it was inching closer to a peace deal with Kabul,” reports AP. “Though there has been no deal yet with the group, whose leader Gulbuddin Helmatyar is a U.S.-designated terrorist, the signs are considered to be progress toward peace talks.”
“However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has denounced further talks with the Taliban after a deadly Kabul explosion last month,” it adds. “Instead he has demanded Islamabad take up arms against the Haqqani network, a powerful Taliban faction that has found refuge in Pakistan.”
As part of Ghani’s new tough stance agains the Taliban, the Afghan government hanged six inmates linked to the terrorist group early this month, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
“Ghani carried out his threat to execute militants after an insurgent attack last month left 64 people dead in Kabul, in seemingly the deadliest attack on the Afghan capital since 2001,” notes the report.
“The executions, the first endorsed by Ghani since he came to power in 2014, have dashed the last traces of hope of reviving Taliban peace talks that broke down last summer,” it adds.