A number of Afghan lawmakers on Saturday said that the U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s trip to regional countries is “pointless” without ensuring peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Khalilzad is on a multi-nation trip on Afghan peace starting from January 8 – 21. According to the U.S. Department of State, the envoy will visit India, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan during this trip.
On Friday, Khalilzad met India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale in New Delhi, where they discussed the Afghan peace process and the situation in Afghanistan.
In the meeting, Indian officials emphasized that the peace process in Afghanistan “must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.”
Following the matter, the Afghan parliament members also stressed on intra-Afghan dialogue.
“The hopes of [ensuring peace] have slowly turned into disappointment and frustration,” the Lower House speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi said. “The fact is that the regional countries’ any kind of meeting with oppositions [Taliban] without the presence of representatives of the national unity government would certainly not help the peace process, but it would be more of heroism for Taliban.”
It comes as the Taliban have rejected repeated requests from regional countries to sit down in negotiating table with the Afghan government, insisting that the United States is their main adversary.
Though, figures close to the Taliban said that the armed group is ready to talk with impartial Afghans if the foreign forces leave Afghanistan.
“The Taliban are committed to peace talks,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former member of the Taliban. “Impartial tribal elders and impartial ulema from any sects can resolve the Afghanistan issue.”
The High Peace Council, meanwhile, said that the regional powers including Pakistan have changed their stand against Afghanistan and that assured of cooperation in the Afghan peace process.
“Pakistan has vowed to take certain steps regarding the Afghan peace process, and to convince the Taliban that peace is in favor of them and two neighboring countries,” the council’s deputy spokesman Asadullah Zayeri said.