Against the background of the positive nature of talks between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban, first in China and then in Pakistan, the statement from Mullah Omar, head of Afghan Taliban, supporting the talks, and describing talks for peace in Afghanistan as valid, is highly significant. This undoubtedly indicates a welcome positive change in the thinking of the Afghan Taliban leadership; if it continues to adopt such a constructive approach, there is definite hope for the talks being fruitful.
According to some reports, the phased release of Afghan prisoners has also begun, as indicative of the talks’ progress. Consequently, over 100 Afghan prisoners have been released as a goodwill gesture. Reportedly, at the Afghan government’s request, the prisoners released in the first phase are the ones who were arrested following the tragedy at the Army Public School in Peshawar. Release of additional Afghan Taliban prisoners may take effect with the second stage of the peace talks. According to reports, Pakistan, extending cooperation to the Afghan peace process, has provided a list of imprisoned Afghan Taliban who may be released in the next stage of the Murree talks, to the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.
Another important breakthrough that has arisen in connection with the peace talks is the announcement from Mutasim Agha, an influential leader of the Afghan Taliban, of his decision to participate in the talks. Mutasim Agha is considered to be a close associate of Mullah Omar. Observers consider his support of the peace talks and his participation in them as exceedingly important for their success. In an interview, Mutasim Agha has said that the talks are a good beginning, and that it is necessary that all of us join in this effort. He said that the talks are important from this perspective that all internal stakeholders, the Afghan government, the Taliban, as well as other important countries — Pakistan, China, and America — are also participating in the process. He supported ceasefire as a confidence building step, and said it would build people’s trust in this process.
Mutasim Agha’s stance is reflective of the Afghan Taliban’s inclination towards peace talks. Good sense also requires that the long years of Afghan bloodshed should be brought to an end and the country be led to the path of peace and prosperity. In this context, a heavy responsibility rests on the Afghan government and the leaders of the Afghan Taliban that they put an end to the shedding of Afghan blood on both sides. They need to show maturity and goodwill by joining together to provide safety, security and protection to their compatriots.