ISLAMABAD: Senior Northern Alliance leader and Deputy Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Mohammad Mohaqiq has welcomed the announcement made by the Afghan Taliban for a ‘brief ceasefire’ in the war to finalise dialogue with the US administration and urged an extended ceasefire to help intra-Afghan dialogue succeed.
In an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today, the veteran Afghan leader Mohammad Mohaqiq, who himself commanded Hazara tribesmen to fight against Soviet occupation forces in the early 1980s, said that the ceasefire should not be confined to the agreement between the Taliban and the US forces.
“The offer for a ceasefire or the promise of bringing down the graph of violence for some time will help facilitate talks between the Taliban and the United States. So I personally welcome it. This is good because dialogue would help the Americans leave Afghanistan through a negotiated settlement,” said the Hazara leader.
However, Mohaqiq said that this ceasefire should be extended to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue as it will create a very good environment for talks.
“But even if the Taliban don’t agree to a ceasefire for intra-Afghan dialogue, we still are ready to talk. We would talk even if the fighting continues. But these are my own views,” he said.
For the intra-Afghan dialogue, Mohaqiq floated the idea that delegation for holding talks with the Taliban should be comprehensive.
“The delegation should include Afghan government; opposition parties; civil society; and women. Such a broader delegation can talk to the Taliban with more executive power. There should be guarantees for the implementation of these talks too,” he said.
Mohaqiq said that dialogue could not sacrifice civil liberties being practiced in Afghanistan for the past two decades.
“These values are recognised in the world and been practiced in Afghanistan for the last 18 years, including democracy, human rights, women’s rights, which are a part of our constitution,” the Afghan leader observed.
Recalling good memories of working with Pakistan, Mohaqiq said Pakistan had played a very good and important role in the Afghan peace process in the past. “And we believe Pakistan will not spare anything to promote this peace process,” he maintained.
Asked to comment on claims made by Afghan refugees minister Hussain Alemi Balkhi that the Afghan government had allocated thousands of acres of land for housing refugees returning from Pakistan, Mohaqiq said that there were refugees returning from Pakistan, Iran, and even Europe.
“So when they (refugees) return and see there is no shelter, they’re really disappointed. Even if we assume that the Afghan government has allocated some land for refugees, land alone can’t house the shelter-less. Moreover, the refugees need to eat and feed their families, besides security. If they don’t have shelter, they don’t have anything to eat or don’t feel secure, they will go back. So I think it’s a very difficult question to answer,” he asserted.
Asked why results of Afghan presidential elections have not been announced despite lapse of five-long months, Mohaqiq said that there were lots of questions over the authenticity of elections in Afghanistan.
“There are a lot of questions over Afghan polls. There are claims and counterclaims of systematic rigging going on for four to five months now. It seriously has brought the legitimacy of the whole process into question,” he said.
Asked if his party was going to accept these results, Mohaqiq said that it had been decided that this time only those votes will be accepted which are processed through biometric devices to preserve the transparency of the process.
“This decision was also announced by the Chief Election Commissioner. Like Pakistan, we also have the same system to count the vote immediately after the voting time. We are not going to accept any invalid vote which is not verified through biometric devices,” he said.
He said Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has said that only those valuable votes processed through biometric machines, will be accepted. “So, if our team leader rejects these delayed results, we will stand by him,” concluded the Afghan leader.