UN invites Taliban to Islamabad for talks on tension with Iran
ISLAMABAD: The visiting United Nations envoy on Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi Monday invited Taliban leaders for talks at Islamabad, according to James Ngobi, acting chief of the UN Special Mission to Afghanistan.
Gobi told NNI that the UN special envoy has invited high-ranking Taliban officials to come to Islamabad either from Kabul or Kandahar for talks on ways and means to reduce the Iran-Afghanistan border tension.
He said Brahimi is arriving in Islamabad on Thursday after concluding his four-day visit to Iran. "Brahimi has no plan to visit Afghanistan because of general embargo on UN officials by the Secretary General to visit the war-torn country," Gobi made it clear.
Gobi's statement came a day after Pakistan demanded that Brahimi should visit Afghanistan, if he wanted his trip to the region to be meaningful.
"We want the UN envoy to visit Afghanistan and meet Taliban leaders there," a senior Taliban leader based in Islamabad had told NNI on Sunday, on the condition of anonymity. He claimed that Taliban have so far received no program about Brahimi's trip to Pakistan Gobi said Lakhdar Brahimi trip to Pakistan would mainly focus on the Iran-Taliban tension. He will also have meetings with Pakistan officials for which the mission has already made request.
Brahimi said in Tehran on Sunday there are no reasons for any military engagement between Iran and the Taliban. He also said he has no plan to travel to Afghanistan because of the security problems faced by the UN personnel in the country.
Reports suggest that Maulvi Wakeel Ahmed, senior advisor to Taliban supreme leader Mulla Omar, met Lakhdar Brahimi during his last week visit to UAE. However, Taliban have made no comment on the report.
Gobi said that it has not yet been decided as to whether or not the UN envoy should visit other regional countries. He said Brahimi would stay in Islamabad till he feels it necessary for his mission.
Sources say that Taliban Foreign Minister Mulla Abdul Jalil, who visited Islamabad last week, discussed with Pakistani officials' matters relating to the UN representative visit. No official word was available about Jalil's activities in Pakistan.
Pakistan and Taliban call for Brahimi's visit to Afghanistan is genuine as Taliban are the dominant force and should be given due importance in dealing with any issue in Afghanistan. Taliban have already showed their readiness to receive the UN fact-finding mission about the alleged killing of anti-Taliban supporters in northern and central Afghanistan.
The visit of Brahimi does not seem to bear fruits as all of his predecessors have failed in striking a durable and comprehensive deal with the Afghan rival factions. The tension between Iran and Afghanistan had made the task of Brahimi more difficult and complicated.
Observers are of the view that it would not be wise to ignore the Taliban who are a real party to the conflict. The United Nations is not at ease with the Taliban administration on numerous issues. . Senior leaders of the Taliban including their supreme leader, Mulla Muhammad Omar have also time and again criticized the UN role in the Afghan conflict. Taliban administration has recently sent a number of letters to the UN Secretary General asking him to use his good offices in defusing tension between Taliban and Iran and in the resolution of other issues as well.
If the United Nations is sincere in its efforts to find a negotiated and amicable solution to the Afghan conflict and also avoid war between Iran and Afghanistan, its envoy must pay a visit to the war-ravaged Afghanistan and hold talks with the student militia. It will greatly help it in evolving future line of action. Otherwise, any formula or plan would be ineffective and incomplete if it does not enjoy the support of the Taliban are now in control of almost the entire Afghanistan.
The recent meeting of the "six-plus-two" group in New York had mandated Brahimi to visit the region amid growing tension between Iran and Afghanistan over the killing of nine Iranian diplomats in Mazar-e-Sharif in August and reports of ethnic cleansing in the area, which fell to Taliban during the last two months.
The six-plus-two group comprised Afghanistan's immediate neighbors Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and China-and Russia and the United States.
The UN does not recognize Taliban militia controlling Afghanistan. In a statement faxed to the NNI from the southern Afghan town of Kandahar on Sunday, Mulla Umar had urged United Nations that it should not use the issue of killed Iranian diplomats as an excuse for not granting recognition to the Taliban administration. He reiterated Taliban's position that the killed Iranians were not diplomats but members of the Iranian military He urged the United Nations to accord recognition to the Taliban administration, now in control of more than ninety five per cent territory of the country. "It is highly regrettable that the United Nations still accord recognition to the ousted and rejected Rabbani regime in sheer violation of its own principles", he said.-NNI
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