When I told Carol Grayson, she let me know that Taliban officials denied the rumors and that she wondered where these stories were coming from.
We heard from the New York Times that
Pakistan’s top military and intelligence officials have begun pressing the Taliban to sit down for face-to-face discussions with the Afghan government
Reuters clarified the source of the rumors
Last week, a Pakistani army delegation brought word to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that Taliban leaders had signaled they are willing to open talks, according to senior Pakistani and Afghan officials. The demands of the insurgents are not yet clear.
On February 20th the Taliban released this statement denying the rumors of negotiations, as Carol Grayson told me
Zabihullah Mujahid writes
Some media outlets irresponsibly reported that the Islamic Emirate will initiate peace talks with America in Qatar today and has sent envoys to Qatar.
We strongly reject this claim. There is no plan of any such talks with any party at our office in Qatar and these rumors have no bases.
There are no new changes in the policy of the Islamic Emirate regarding negotiations and neither has the Islamic Emirate yet taken a serious stance on this issue. Afghanistan is still under occupation, there are thousands of foreign troops currently present and operating inside Afghanistan, the Kabul administration has a security pact with America, is embroiled in corruption, is encouraging anti-Islamic activities and stresses on the continued presence of foreign invaders. (emphasis mine)
And now comes a second statement from the Taliban denying rumors of negotiations
the central goals of the Islamic Emirate are ending the occupation, attaining independence, establishing an all Afghan-inclusive Islamic government and peace for our countrymen.
For attaining this purpose the Islamic Emirate, with the help of its believing Mujahid nation, has utilized both military and political mechanisms and will continue to do so in the future. Establishing contacts with world countries, visits, meetings, participation of Islamic Emirate in international conferences and opening a political office in Qatar, which was opposed by anti-peace parties, are clear examples of this.
There have been many rumors swirling around in the media lately about the latest developments in Afghanistan and negotiations with the Kabul administration, these are nothing more than the views and assumptions of these outlets. We have repeatedly declared that every report which is not published or confirmed by the official channels of Islamic Emirate are false and hold no value.
Meanwhile ToloNews cites a former Taliban leader claiming that the 5 detainees released from Guantánamo were possibly joining the negotiators.
Khaama Press appears to get the story right. They also have an article quoting former President (by coup, now on trial for treason) Musharraf saying that Kabul must share power with the Taliban to bring peace, and saying that the war in Afghanistan is a proxy war between India and Pakistan.
Defending his country’s role in supporting the Afghan anti-government armed militant groups Musharraf said his and Islamabad’s role in supporting the Afghan insurgency was a legitimate counterweight against its rival India there.
This is the second time Musharraf is admitting Islamabad’s role in proxy war in Afgahnistan. Earlier, Musharraf said the government of Pakistan sought to undermine the government of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, accusing him of helping India stab pakistan in the back.
The remarks by Musharraf comes as the Afghan officials have long been accusing the Pakistani security institutions specifically the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) for supporting the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.
While I would love to see that happen, I couldn’t help start to laugh out loud as I began to understand what was happening. I will believe rumors of peace talks when I see them begin. Meanwhile our new War Secretary who was elected to wage more war in Iraq against ISIS and also showed concerns about leaving Afghanistan is now advocating that we stay longer in Afghanistan, actually saying out loud that “We will never be gone from Afghanistan.” One day I hope we will leave Afghanistan, but like Iraq I am already wondering when we will “need” to re-invade to clean up the mess we created when we destroyed Afghanistan the first time.