India, Iran and Russia should be included in the talks
with the Taliban, says former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who said
that the current talks among the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) were
Afghanistan’s “only hope for peace” despite the fact that the talks were
being held in Pakistan.
Mr. Karzai’s comments came as there was uncertainty in
Islamabad over just when the next round of QCG talks that include
representatives from the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, would be
The group had met twice, in February in Islamabad and
Kabul, expressing the hope that the direct talks between the Afghan
government and Taliban representatives would be scheduled in early March,
after which the QCG had met.
However, in a statement on Saturday, the Taliban said it
would not attend the talks until all the International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) forces had left the country.
Afghan analysts have also been worried that the presence
of the U.S. and China in the QCG would push President Ghani to accept more
and more concessions toward the Taliban, even though they have been unable
to bring enough pressure to bear on Pakistan to use those “levers”.
India has stayed disengaged from the process, saying that
it would support any initiative that is “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”.