The Afghan government has said the recent meeting between Afghan politicians and Taliban members in Moscow was a political debate rather than a peace talks meeting and that no one had any executive authority to forge agreements.
This comes a day after delegates attending the peace talks in Moscow issued a joint declaration in which they outlined a nine point approach to promote “intra-Afghan” dialogue aimed at finding a political settlement to the conflict in the country.
“Moscow declaration will not have an impact on the peace process in Afghanistan,” the Presidential Palace (ARG) said in a statement on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a number of politicians have described the meeting in Moscow as a move to weaken the Afghan government. But they said the meeting between the Taliban and the Afghan politicians will help them come up with more coherent views regarding the peace process in future meetings.
This week’s Moscow meeting marked the first time that Taliban held direct talks with Afghanistan’s influential politicians.
“It was a political and academic debate about peace. The declaration which was released at the end of this meeting was the summary of this meeting and will not have any practical and executive outcomes on the peace process,” said Haroon Chakhansuri, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman.
“The executive power of this meeting is not huge. But the extraordinary thing is that some hardline opponents sit and shared their views,” said Sayed Eshaq Gailani, head of Nahzat-e-Hambastagi-e-Milli Afghanistan party.
“All parties agreed that to determine lasting peace in Afghanistan, the following points are important : the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, asking all countries to avoid interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, providing assurance to the international community that Afghanistan will not be used against any other nation, protection of social, economic, political and educational rights of the Afghan women in line with Islamic principles, protection of political and social rights of the entire people of Afghanistan and protection of freedom of speech in line with Islamic principles, undertaking efforts for attracting international assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s infrastructure,” an excerpt from the declaration reads.
“Until the time there is no solid guarantee for it, we can not trust these words under any situation and we can not describe it as progress, because, just a day before, they (Taliban) torched a school in Farah,” said MP Raihana Azad.
Taliban and other delegates also agreed to undertake reforms in Afghanistan’s security and military institutions once a peace deal is reached.
“All parties have agreed that systematic reforms be put in place in all national institutions including the security sector after a peace deal is signed,” reads the declaration.
This comes after former head of Taliban’s Qatar office, Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai who also serves as the group’s chief negotiator had said that the Afghan National Army (ANA) would be dissolved after a peace deal.
But Stanikzai, on Wednesday night rejected reports of having said the Afghan army would be dissolved once US forces had withdrawn.
In a written message to TOLOnews, Stanikzai said “some parts of my interview with the Nunn Taki Asia wrongly rationalized”.
He said he did not mean the army would be dissolved but he “meant that this army was created when the foreigners came”.
“At that time, they mandated to fight the Taliban instead of defending the honor of the nation and the borders.
“You better know, we mentioned repeatedly that while withdrawing your troops, you've to leave all military equipments/tools as we're looking forward to have a well-equipped army in the future,” he stated.
Among critics of Moscow talks is Amrullah Saleh, former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service – National Directorate of Security (NDS) - who is now running as first vice president to Ghani in the next elections.
“It is a MUST that an Afghan nation state represent the country within & abroad. Afghans who agree to attend chaotic foreign conferences, knowingly or unknowingly, reinforce the narrative of the enemy next door that we are a web of tribes & not a state. Don't be "Useful Idiots",” Saleh said in a tweet.
But, Ershad Ahmadi, who attended the Moscow talks responded to Saleh and said: “Those loafing around in the lobbies of Abu Dhabi hotels in the hope of catching a selfie with Taliban, and as such, destroyed the gravitas of our state, are now insulting those who r proudly defending the state and its achievements in Moscow. This is no time 4 electoral rhetoric."
But the High Peace Council (HPC) has said that it welcomes any move which will led to the promotion of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
HPC said that it will thoroughly assess the Moscow declaration and will include the items in its work agenda if it believes the points are in Afghanistan’s interests.