Death of Taliban leader setback to peacemaking efforts

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WASHINGTON, June 21 (APP): The drone strike that killed
Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Pakistan was a
setback to peacemaking efforts by the a conflict resolution group
which met Taliban representatives in Qatar, a Wall Street
Journal report said on Tuesday.

The members of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World
Affairs had engaged the Taliban representatives in Doha, when
the strike happened. After the attack Taliban appointed a
hardline religious leader who has increased attacks on
government targets and has promised more during the ongoing holy
month of Ramazan.

“Striking the leadership was a mistake, ‘Paolo
Cotta Ramusino, Pugwash’s secretary general was quoted as saying
by the report who stressed that there was a need to engage Taliabn’s leadership and not take them out.”

The report said that Taliban’s political office in Doha
believes that strike may have scuttled chances to restart talks.

The new leader it says has a record of reconciliation efforts
within the group but since appointed he has launched new attacks.

“Unfortunately, this incident has made the atmosphere very tense
and has also eroded trust,” the report quoted an unnamed person who
it said was familiar with the Taliban’s position.

The May meeting in Qatar took place without representatives
of the Afghan government and The Wall Street Journal was invited
by Pugwash to observe the proceedings. Pugwash is
Nobel Prize winning organization dedicated to promoting peace.

The meeting in Qatar was aimed at preparing ground for
the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership to discuss peace efforts.

Quoting some Western officials in Kabul, the report said
that Pugwash was offering an opportunity to the Afghan government
to explore possibility of a ceasefire, without having a pressure
of official talks.

“The centerpiece of the gathering was the document that proposed
a path to peace, including a timetable for withdrawing U.S.
forces, an interim government with Taliban representatives and
elections in which Taliban candidates could participate,” the
report said, adding that the Pugwash document, reviewed by The
Wall Street Journal, was drafted after months of consultations
among Afghan tribal leaders, warlords and dignitaries.