Top UN envoy in Afghanistan hopeful that peace process will resume in next couple of weeks

The top United Nations (UN) envoy in Afghanistan does not rule out the possibility of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban resuming in the next couple of weeks.
 
Addressing a press conference in New York on Thursday following his briefing to the UN Security Council, Nicholas Haysom said they are waiting for the newly-elected Taliban chief Mullah Mansour to resolve his leadership status in the militant organization before the peace process can resume.
 
“When organized insurgencies undergo a succession dispute, or a succession resolution of their own leadership status, in my view they would be reluctant to enter into something as potentially divisive as a peace process because it involves a strategic U-turn,” Mr. Haysom said, in response to a question about the possibility of reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
 
“So we are going to have to wait until Mansour, or whoever else comes out as the winner, resolves his leadership status in the organization before they will commit to a peace process,” he added.

On the role of Pakistan in the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process, Mr. Haysom emphasized that peace and stability in the region depends on peace and stability in Afghanistan

On the role of Pakistan in the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process, Mr. Haysom emphasized that peace and stability in the region depends on peace and stability in Afghanistan.
 
“So there is every reason to hope that the region – and I include China and other significant players within that concept of the region – who have every reason to support an Afghan peace process,” he said, without specifically mentioning Pakistan.
 
He ruled out the possibility of peace in Afghanistan unless there is a peace process “in which Afghans negotiate with each other”.
 
“It’s not a process that can take place between some Afghans and other countries. It’s a process which has to take place between Afghans themselves,” he stressed.
 
He, however, hastened to add that the peace process cannot have “immediate deliverable impact”.
 
“But that is all the more reason to argue for and to try and promote and activate and initiate a peace process as soon as possible,” he said.
 
Mr. Haysom, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said he does “engage with the Taliban”, because there are people within the group who “understand the kind of broader logic which requires them to find a way of living together with other Afghans”.
 
On the presence of the Islamic State (IS) group in Afghanistan, Mr. Haysom admitted that there is “some presence” of the militant group but it is important “not to exaggerate” their presence.
 
“We know for a fact that it is present in certain parts of at least one of the eastern provinces, Nangarhar, where it is engaged in active fighting with Taliban, incidentally. It may have presence in some other areas. It may have a resonance with other groups that are there,” said the UN envoy.
 
“But the overall estimate is that the jihadist ideology which informs ISIL doesn’t have the resonance in Afghanistan, which has primarily a nationalist rhetoric, to the insurgent ideology.”

The people of Afghanistan are facing “an opaque future,” and are closely monitoring their environment for signs of international disengagement or of domestic stabilization

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Haysom in his briefing to the UN Security Council said Afghanistan continues to need the sustained support of the international community as its stability cannot be taken for granted.
 
The people of Afghanistan are facing “an opaque future,” and are closely monitoring their environment for signs of international disengagement or of domestic stabilization.
 
“A clear signal of continued international support will mitigate the uncertainty fuelling this exodus,” he said.
 
On the deteriorating security situation, Mr. Haysom said the conflict continues to take a toll on civilians, noting that, in the first eight months of 2015, UNAMA documented the highest level of civilian casualties since it began records. 
 
“UNAMA is encouraged by recent statements made by President Ashraf Ghani to take official steps to reduce civilian casualties,” he said. “We trust that the Government’s civilian casualty mitigation policy will incorporate all of the elements set out in UNAMA’s Mid-Year Report on the Protection of Civilians.”

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