‘Taliban must transform ideology, accept democracy`

Taliban will have to transform its ideology and accept the democratic principles of a modern Afghanistan if the reconciliation process is to experience any semblance of success.

Last Updated: May 01, 2012, 16:24 PM IST

Dubai: Taliban will have to transform its ideology and accept the democratic principles of a modern Afghanistan if the reconciliation process is to experience any semblance of success, according to a top Afghan diplomat said.

Afghan ambassador to Qatar Khaled Zekriya said he hoped the reconciliation process could begin sooner rather than later and would be fruitful.

The talks between the militant group and the Afghan government are likely to get underway in Qatar with the establishment of a Taliban office in Doha.

"The parameters around the operations of the office, its period of existence and other logistical issues are still being negotiated by Afghan, US and Taliban officials," Zekriya told Gulf Times.

He said the `Afghan-owned and Afghan-led` initiative would only come to fruition if numerous preconditions were met.

"I went through some consultations with the president, the foreign minister and other members of the administration, and in the midst of all the discussions we agreed that Qatar will be accepted as a venue for the establishment of the interim liaison office for Taliban, however our preconditions are very clear," said Zekriya.

"In order for the Taliban to have their office open, once the process starts they must be open to sit and talk directly to the Afghan government and the High Peace Council," he said, describing this as the single most important aspect of the entire process.
The other preconditions require Taliban to denounce terrorism and cut its ties with Al-Qaeda, and to accept the constitution of Afghanistan, the establishment of democracy and the changes which have occurred in the past 10 years, including on human rights and the rights of women.

The Taliban have demanded the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Zekriya said, adding that the future role of Taliban in the country was also likely to be discussed.

"For his part, President (Hamid) Karzai has said that if the Taliban meet these preconditions, then they are free to return to Afghanistan and participate in democracy in any shape or form," Zekriya was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Despite reports suggesting that the office is already operational, he said that the process was not yet underway, and explained that the establishment of an address for the Taliban was an Afghan idea, initially developed in 2008 and intended to be opened in Ankara.

The change of venue was eventually accepted by the Afghan government on the basis of these prerequisites.

PTI