KABUL: Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai says he is optimistic that intra-Afghan peace negotiations, tentatively scheduled for next week, can bring stability to Afghanistan, but he does not rule out the possibility of an interim government with Taliban representatives. The proposed peace talks, involving all Afghan parties to the conflict, are due to start on March 10, following a US-Taliban agreement reached in Qatar last week.
Karzai said in an interview with Arab News at his residence in Kabul over the weekend that he is fully supportive of the US-led peace initiative and all efforts to end Afghan hostilities. “That is a very good step. We fully appreciated, wanted and liked it. We hope whatever is signed is for the good of the country, for peace for stability, for unity, and for a strong (Afghan) government,” he said.
Karzai said he believes the intra-Afghan talks may come to a resolution quickly, as compared with the US-Taliban agreement which took long months.
He also did not rule out the possibility of an interim government emerging from the Afghan-Taliban dialogue amid the current post-presidential election crisis in Afghanistan.“It depends on how the situation develops … If the Taliban ask for it and there is no compromise here on a proper representation, then that is the only outcome. So it depends on how the things proceed from this point to negotiations,” Karzai said when asked whether he would support the interim government option in order to move the talks forward once they begin.
The crisis started after incumbent President Ashraf Ghani’s archrival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, refused to accept the final results of the September presidential vote and announced he would form a parallel government.
“If it (the political tension) continues, surely it will affect the peace process. But we are trying our best to resolve it sooner so that Afghanistan can have a stable government, a strong government, and one that can sit down with our fellow Afghans, the Taliban and reach a national consensus on the future of the country,” Karzai said.
When Afghan leaders reach an agreement with the Taliban, he said, the interim government “will be a necessity.” “Some arrangement has to come to include the Taliban as well, and then to move forward, that cannot be done without an interim arrangement as the result of the peace process.
Karzai said that he and other opposition leaders have been discussing various ways to end the current political crisis and introduce a legitimate system acceptable to the whole of the Afghan people, as they are focused on the peace process and the nation’s desire to launch the intra-Afghan dialogue as soon as possible.