PUGWASH Conference: Diplomacy’s first win over militarism



Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen

Afghan writer and political Analyst based in Kabul


Similar conferences were held in Doshisha University of Kyoto, Japan in 2012 and then in France; previous conference had positive consequences, Taliban, Hezb-I Islami and a number of political parties’ leaders, lawmakers and civil society activists were participated in these conferences, attempts were made; Taliban and Afghan politicians wanted the continuation of these conferences but the Afghan government intercepted them, and it did not allow their representatives to participate in a conference in Turkmenistan that was the continuation of this run, after that the progress discontinued, and the Turkmenistan Conference became sabotaged.

A conference was planned to be held in Malaysia and the Taliban were going to participate in it also, but the conference inhibited after the new government by the leadership of Ashraf Ghani signed the security agreement with America.

The Japan Embassy working for the peace process in Afghanistan and had an idea to organize a conference in which the impartial Afghans that do not have problem with both the Taliban and the government to find a chance to come together and discuss the peace related issue, but the close relations of Ashraf Ghani with Pakistan and the deceiver peace talks delayed this conference, also.

PUGWASH, UN and Taliban

PUGWASH that carried the support of US and Canada did not accept the terms of Afghan government and continued its work; if PUGWASH accepted the interference of the Afghan government, perhaps this conference would not be held in Doha either.

Three months ago, PUGWASH Council was able to contact the Taliban through UN and receive their confirmation that they would participate in this conference.

In 2012, PUGWASH had a similar conference in Dubai; comrades of Mullah Mutasem Agha Jan on behalf of the Taliban were participated in that conference; the conference was fruitless because PUGWASH was not contacted the Taliban in Qatar. Therefore the Taliban did not want to have direct talks with PUGWASH and they were somehow querulous for it. So, the Taliban through the UN became agreed with PUGWASH council on participation in this conference (2-3 May, 2015). As the Taliban are in contact with the UN representatives, that’s why PUGWASH asked for the UN role and cooperation.

Taliban say they want to raise/present their views/ideas with the International Community, so they do not have any problem with participation in such kinds of conferences. Taliban, considering their terms, would have participated in the conference organized by PUGWASH in 2012, if PUGWASH contacted the representative of Taliban in Qatar instead of inviting other people by the name of Taliban.

As PUGWASH had made a mistake last time, so, at this time, it called for the UN intercession to make the Taliban participate in this conference; that’s why PUGWASH Management took care of most of the Taliban terms in this conference.

Why the PUGWASH Conference was held in Qatar?

It was planned the PUGWASH Conference would be held in Turkey. Due to below three reasons it took place in Doha:

  • First, a lot of Taliban leaders are in the US and the UN blacklists.
  • Second, Taliban wanted to grant a kind of privilege to Qatar.
  • Third, Taliban wanted to prove the accusation of that, Taliban are under the influence of Pakistan, wrong; it is because Qatar does not have good and close ties with Pakistan, in the case, Turkey has close relations with Pakistan. Taliban preferred the conference to be held in Doha in order to be safe from the mentioned accusation.

PUGWASH became agreed with Taliban on some names that were going to be participated in this conference. Afghan delegation was not in positon to represent the Afghan government effectively to a large extent. On the other hand, the Taliban delegation was participated in the conference by the leadership of Mullah Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai.

The Afghan government has announced several times that those from the government and the High Peace Council invited to the conference did not represent the Afghan government.

According to information, the demands of the Taliban and the agreement of PUGWASH on them was a challenge to the Afghan government. There are some reports that, for the first time, the Afghan government did not provide permission to their officials and the members of High Peace Council to participate in the conference. But as I mentioned before, PUGWASH had support of the US and Canada; so the new Afghan government had to not prevent Afghans that were going to participate in the conference from Kabul and, as its successor, do not vitiate their relations with mentioned organizations and countries.

It is noteworthy that these kind of international conferences are not held without the consent of the US; that is why the Unity Government had to not oppose it.

Dissatisfaction and Obligation of the President

It is reported that President Ashraf Ghani was very angry with holding a conference in Doha in which Afghans could participate independently; in the case, no one was allowed to participate in it on the behalf of the government, but he was obligated and he could not prevent holding of this conference. There are some reports about President Ghani that he wanted this conference to be held in Turkey instead of Qatar. Some political analysts believe that such kind of conferences would be prevented with different subterfuges by the government as it was did in former President Karzai’s term.

Some analysts also think that there would be no policy for truthful peace in the agenda of the Unity Government, and such kind of conferences provides the ground for a true peace.

There are some reports that the Agenda and the list of participants had widely changed considering Taliban desires after the Taliban agreed to participate in the PUGWASH Conference. There primary list contained the names of former President Hamid Karzai, former and present high-ranking officials and the head and secretary of the High Peace Council Abdul Hakeem Mujahid and Masoom Stanekzai.

PUGWASH also rejected the request of the Unity Government on the participation of their formal representative in the conference based on the Taliban gesture.

The above mentioned points show that the Taliban have benefited a lot from this conference and they have achieved a diplomatic victory. Also, the rumors that Pakistan would make the Taliban to initiate peace talks with the Afghan government proved falsified through this conference and the Taliban were able to present their conditions for peace talks, too.

Taliban Demands on Peace Talks

The most important demands of the Taliban for peace talks were that existence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is the main obstacle toward peace; existence of names of the Taliban leaders in blacklist and putting awards on the heads of Taliban leaders are the main obstacles in front of peace talks, also.

Taliban have called for the true struggles for peace and added that peace talks should be carried by those who believe in peace, love their country and their people, and count the interest of their nation and country higher than every other thing.

Taliban also said that having peace talks with neighboring countries instead of Taliban is another unsuccessful action made by the government. It is a fail experience that sabotages peace every time.

The Taliban demanded a specific office for the continuation of the peace progress and asked the international community to officially recognize their office.

Taliban also demanded that a Constitution considering the Islamic principles, national interests, religion and culture should be issued. Meanwhile, they discussed women rights and girls’ education and said that women have right to receive educaiton, do work and participate in activities considering Islamic principles and Afghan culture.

It was the things that the Taliban could not bring them to the attention of their opponents and the international community, but they were able to raise their views and presentations regarding peace with political opponents and international community.

Participants and invited individuals

Pakistan, very seriously, wanted someone to participate on their behalf in this conference, Rostam Shah Momand, Zaed, Asad Durani and Shujah Pacha were suggested, but their request for participation in the conference was not accepted.

Qatar and the Gulf countries have distance on Yemen issue with Pakistan. Taliban would wish to give a privilege to Qatar by holding this conference in this country; Taliban would also desire to prove this to the international community and the Afghan government that they make their political and military decisions independently.

Ghairat Baheer that had participated in joint meetings with the Taliban in Japan and Qutbuddin Hilal that had meetings with the Taliban in Arabic countries two years ago were participated on behalf of Hezb-i Islami in this conference.

The ambessedor of Sweden and a representative from Russian Embassy were also invited to this conference. Daniel from UNAMA and another one were key participants, also.

Three women from Afghanistan, Malalai Shinwari, Leena Shinwari and Wagma Hazratzai were also invited and participant of the conference.

A person near to Ex-President Karzai and another one near to H.E Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, CEO of Afghanistan were participated in the conference, also. Qayum Kochi, the uncle of President Ghani was also participant of the conference.

Mawlawi Attaullah Ludin, the former Governor of Nangarhar Province and member of the High Peace Council and Mawlawi Shahzada Shahid, member of Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of the Parliament) and spokesman for the High Peace Council were also participants of the conference.

Mawlawi Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil, former Taliban minister for Foreign Affairs and Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, former Taliban ambessedor to Pakistan were also invited to the conference, but they could not participate in it due to their personal reasons.

Shir Moahmmad Abbas Stanekzai led an eight member Taliban delegation each one Mawlawi Jan Mohammad Madani, Mawalawi Said Rasool Haleem, Mawlawi Shuhabuddin Dilawar, Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanifi, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen and Hafiz Azizurrahman was participated in PUGWASH conference, also.

Tacit Achievements, War and Peace in Same Time

It was a question to a lot of people that the Taliban have started their spring operations/offensive under the name of Azm (Decision), so peace talks would be impossible by then, and Taliban would focus on war instead of peace, but PUGWASH showed that the Taliban are still committed to the peace containing their conditions.

Another big achievement of PUGWASH would be that some political groups would have chance to share their opinions in the side meetings of the conference, also, during prayers, tea break and meals, they would have chance to talk with each other and express their views to each other.

Perhaps, the representatives of Taliban and Hezb-i Islami would have exchanged their views; Taliban would have talked with independent and impartial Afghans, also. Briefly, we can call this a good achievement in going forward to peace and security in the country.

It is not important which one of them, the Taliban, the government or the other political groups had more achievement. The important thing is that these meetings extenuate the distances, provide chance for exchanging thoughts and provide ground for truthful peace, committed negotiations and withdrawal of foreign forces.

The Ending without issuing a joint statement

Qayum Kochi, the uncle of President Ghani demanded stopping the fight and announcing a ceasefire but Taliban rejected this demand. The two days PUGWASH Conference in Doha on May 2-3 ended without issuing a statement which all sides were agree upon.

As issuing a statement in the end of such conferences is a formality, so the PUGWASH Conference also issued a statement containing 15 articles. As there were no one participated in the conference on behalf of the Afghan government, and only impartial Afghans were participated in it, so the statement was issued as a policy statement and it contained demands only.

In the statement, Taliban demand a specific office for the continuation of peace process in Qatar, the removal of Taliban leaders from the US and the UN blacklist, and that ISIS is not proportionate with Afghan culture in Afghanistan and that there should be good relations with neighborhood countries, Withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, implementation of women Islamic and cultural rights, wide discussion on the Constitution, and continuation of such meetings and conference were also mentioned in the statement.

Hopes for peace and security is higher after PUGWASH Conference and the Afghan people demand the entire sides including the Taliban, Hezb-I Islami, the Afghan government, the UN, and the international community which is led by the US to become committed to peace, take care of each other desires and become supple in order for the ground to be facilitated for truthful peace in and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Afghanistan.

Afghan people hope for such conferences to be continued and for those individuals that create obstacles toward such conferences to be prevented.

Author Details
Jim W. Dean is Managing Editor of Veterans Today involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. He broke into television work doing Atlanta Public TV programs for variety of American heritage, historical,military, veterans and Intel topics and organizations since 2000. Jim’s only film appearance was in the PBS Looking for Lincoln documentary with Prof. Henry Lewis Gates, and he has guest lectured at the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Gordon, GA.

He is working to find time now to database his extensive video archive of Americana and interviews filmed during his public TV days so individual topic segments can be key word searched to quickly use in future multi-media projects.

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