Afghan peace delegation meets Hizb-e-Islami


ISLAMABAD – In a significant development on Thursday, the visiting delegation of Afghan High Council for Peace met the representatives of the Hizb-e-Islami, one of the major insurgent groups in the Afghanistan.
“Hizb-e-Islami, which is led by former Afghan prime minister and now one of the main insurgent leaders, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, presented its 15-point peace formula to the Afghan delegation,” said a diplomatic source, wishing not to be named.
The Afghan delegation was led by Qutbuddin Halal, who served as the first deputy prime minister under then president Burhanuddin Rabbani in the 1990s.
The source said Hizb’s peace plan called on all US led foreign troops to leave Afghanistan and demanded the current Afghan parliament be replaced by an interim government, or shura, which would hold local and national elections within a year.
According to the plan, a new Afghan constitution should be written by merging the current version with the ones used earlier, the source said. The Afghan Council’s delegation, formed by President Hamid Karzai to broker a peace deal with the Taliban and other insurgent groups, told Hizb’s representatives that the plan would be studied in detail by the Karzai administration. Hizb’s representatives assured full support to Kabul for the restoration of peace, provided its demands were accepted, the source said.
Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities and the Afghan delegation decided to hold a “peace jirga” soon to bring lasting peace and stability to war-torn Afghanistan. Islamabad also assured that it would take all possible steps to facilitate the “process of reconciliation” with the Taliban.
“The visiting delegation from Afghanistan and Pakistani authorities have decided to hold a peace jirga soon to help revive peace in our neighboring country,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said.
“Representatives from both the countries will participate in this jirga,” he said.
He said the two sides discussed the opening of a Taliban representative office in Turkey in the wake of an idea floated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Basit said, “Pakistan doesn’t have any problem with the opening of such an office in Turkey if Afghanistan and Turkey agree on that.” The Afghan delegation is scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari tomorrow (Saturday) before its return to Kabul the same day.
Another Foreign Office official said on condition of anonymity that Pakistani authorities also agreed to play their role for the success of the reconciliation process with the Taliban.