Terrorists no more


The United Nations (UN) is likely to remove the names of some important Taliban leaders from its list of terrorists soon following US-backed joint efforts by Pakistan and Afghanistan, a development that will fulfil a major condition of Mullah Omar-led Afghan insurgents to participate in the reconciliation process.
It was in April last year that the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed on a “Safe Passage Mechanism” for the Taliban leaders who wanted to enter into the intra-Afghan dialogue.
The move was aimed at facilitating the safe travel of Taliban negotiators to various countries for peace talks.
Senior Taliban leaders like Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar, who recently participated in informal peace talks in Paris along with Afghan authorities and members of other Afghan groups, is said to have taken advantage of the agreement on ‘safe passage’ between Islamabad, Kabul and Washington.
The Paris talks were held after the UN Security Council allowed an exemption last month to some blacklisted Taliban leaders to travel outside Afghanistan for peace and reconciliation talks. The UN Security Council, however, renewed its Taliban sanctions regime.
There are around 130 Taliban individuals and four entities on the UN Security Council’s sanctions list.
Islamabad and Kabul have been working for removal of some Taliban leaders from the UN terrorist list to impress upon Mullah Omar and his close aides to enter peace negotiations with Kabul. These efforts enjoy the support and backing of Washington as well.
“The joint efforts by Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are backed by Washington, seem to be proving fruitful and we could soon see the removal of names of senior Taliban leaders, around 10 in number, from the UN terrorists’ list,” a Pakistani diplomat based in Washington said. He said the removal of Taliban leaders’ names from the UN list meant for terrorists would be a significant step, as it would result in the fulfillment of an important condition that the Taliban have come up with for joining the Afghan reconciliation process.
Before, throwing its support to Kabul’s efforts for the removal of Taliban leaders’ names from UN terrorists’ list, Islamabad released as many as 26 Taliban prisoners, including former Taliban justice minister Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, to help bring the Taliban leaders to the table of negotiations.
Islamabad also agreed with the Karzai government on holding a ‘Joint Ulema Conference’ in Kabul this month as part of peace efforts in the war-torn country. An Afghan diplomat privy to the ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan also confirmed the joint efforts by Islamabad and Kabul.
Requesting not to be named, he said Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is to visit Washington soon, would also take up that vital issue with President Barack Obama and other senior American officials.
Noted security and defence analyst Muhammad Amir Rana told Pakistan Today that the Taliban wanted to know how serious the US was in the peace and reconciliation process and they (Taliban) had come up with some demands, including removal of their names from the UN terrorists’ list, to ascertain the same.
“The removal of Taliban names from the UN terrorists’ list would be an important confidence building measure and it will help persuade the Taliban to join the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” he said.