US preconditions may scuttle talks, says Fazl

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ISLAMABAD, June 19: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has criticised the US and said that stringent preconditions could put Afghan reconciliation process in jeopardy. “Such preconditions can even scuttle the prospects of talks before any meaningful negotiations kick off,” he said. “Instead, the US should take confidence-building measures that will lead to positive sentiments on both sides and will also have positive impacts on the talks’ result.” The Maulana said the US had committed the same mistake when the first Obama administration asked the Taliban to take some measures before any engagement on the pressure of the Congress and other domestic lobbies.

“The same pressure prevented the administration not to initiate measures, particularly releasing Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.”

He said the proposed talks were meant to pave the way for more comprehensive negotiations and being a decisive stakeholder America needed to facilitate rather than hamper the process.

The JUI-F chief said the US should work on creating an ‘enabling environment’ so that the Afghan reconciliation process could be kicked off to a better start.

He said the US realisation to resolve the issue through negotiation was a welcome sign, but it should not let slip off lessons of the failed but limited engagements with the Taliban in the past.

Meanwhile, Jan Achakzai, spokesman for Maulana Fazlur Rehman, has said from the very beginning the JUI-F had adopted the stance that military solutions would not work.

“Afghan reconciliation promises peace not only for Afghanistan but also for the region, including Pakistan.”

Mr Achakzai said that peace and stability in Pakistan was very much linked with peace and stability in Afghanistan so it had an important role to play as already being acknowledged by Washington that Pakistan had helped in developments leading to the opening of Qatar office of the Taliban.

“All stakeholders should work towards meaningful negotiations and a successful conclusion of the reconciliation process so that the sacrifices made in blood and money do not go waste and peace can return to the region,” he said.