ISLAMABAD - The four-nation Quadrilateral Contact Group (QCG) would soon meet to review the situation arising out of the refusal of main Afghan Taliban faction to join the peace and reconciliation process.
Sources privy to the development said the QCG would ponder over the causes of Taliban’s refusal to join the peace talks.
The sources did not share details about the date of the upcoming QCG meeting, but said the crucial meeting would weigh the possibility of other factions joining the peace talks.
The meeting will also seek to determine the future course of the main faction of Taliban whether they join the peace talks or intensify fighting in Afghanistan.
Despite the blow, the QCG hoped direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban would start soon.
The insurgent group, headed by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, in its statement issued on Saturday last, expressed ignorance about the proceedings of the QCG and refused to join the process, adding its political office in Qatar was a legitimate interlocutor to be approached.
The faction is represented by its political office in Doha (Qatar). Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif last month visited Doha for enlisting support of the Qatari leadership for the initiative.
The main faction cited a number of reasons for not joining the peace talks until and unless its demands, including halt to operations by Afghan forces, deployment of US troops to the battlefield and their participation in air strikes and continuing night raids, were accepted.
The QCG had last month adopted a ‘roadmap’ which lays out the various stages and timelines for the process. The official believes the delay would not disturb the roadmap. “It is important to remember that the roadmap is not an end, only a means. It delineates the process, and there can be adjustments, improvements and retuning as we move ahead,” said a source.
The immediate objective before the QCG was to get the process started before the launch of annual spring offensive by the Taliban so that violence could be lowered. Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal too is hopeful that the talks would get underway soon.
He was quoted by the Voice of America as saying: “There is a lot happening in the background.” He explained that the planned starting date of the first week of March was “indicative” that plans were moving forward.
The joint statement issued on the conclusion of the Pak-US Strategic Dialogue held in Washington said, “Pakistan reaffirms its commitment to taking action, in line with the country’s National Action Plan, to ensure that the Taliban are unable to operate from Pakistani soil.”