Afghanistan peace talks in jeopardy if Taliban refuse to attend

 

Islamabad

Key Afghan peace talks announced by David Cameron, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier this month were in danger of collapse last night after leading Pakistani clerics told The Independent that they were not willing to take part unless the Taliban was also present.

The leading Pakistani mullahs, or Ulema, are also unhappy with what they see as a crude attempt by the three countries to use the talks as a way of endorsing the Karzai government. Afghanistan has dispatched an emergency delegation to Islamabad in an attempt to persuade the clerics to attend the talks, which were announced with great fanfare by the three leaders at Chequers.

The conference is supposed to take place next month in Kabul and was one of the few concrete steps to come out of the Chequers summit.

Tahir Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, a leading organisation of Pakistani clerics who was seen as a possible leader of the Pakistani side of the conference, said: “How come people can talk to the Taliban all over the world but not in Kabul? We support peace talks. But if we are to discuss peace, then how can you leave out one of the parties to the war?”

The Taliban have indicated their interest in peace negotiations and their representatives have held discussions in Qatar, Germany, France and elsewhere. But it is highly unlikely that they could openly attend a conference in Afghanistan any time soon, and they have come out strongly against the idea of this particular conference.

Mr Ashrafi said today that, after 16 hours of talks with the Afghan side in Islamabad, “nothing firm” was agreed. Pakistan’s three big religious political parties were the obvious choices to go to Kabul with the Ulema Council but didn’t even turn up for the talks.

The conference of the leading mullahs was a key stage in the “Peace Process Roadmap to 2015”, a plan presented in November by the Karzai regime’s High Peace Council. The event had already been postponed from January. That month, Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, issued a statement saying that any religious cleric attending would be “answerable to God”, an apparent threat.

It was reported that Kabul would seek a fatwa (religious decree) against suicide bombing at the meeting – an edict that would be, at least implicitly, critical of the Taliban. The leadership of the Taliban is presumed to be hiding in Pakistan.

At the Chequers summit, the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan pledged to aim for a peace deal with the Taliban within six months.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Tax Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Progressive practice, punching ...

Recruitment Genius: Ruby On Rails Developer

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This an exciting opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Lift Engineer

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Lift Engineer is required to jo...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible