125 Taliban rebels shun violence, join peace process in Balkh


KABUL: Balkh local officials on Monday said that as many as 125 Taliban fighters have shunned insurgency and joined the peace process in Chahar Kant district of northern Balkh province.
The militants who joined the peace process belonged to Qara Ghach, Nawabad, Chindar, Mirdi, Surkh Kucha and Awiblaq villages of Chahar Kant district, Sayed Abdullah Masroor, deputy provincial council head, said.
He added that the insurgents shunned insurgency following efforts from local elders. The men belonged to a Taliban commander named Mullah Khudaidad.
This comes as peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan representatives in Doha have arrived at a standstill. 
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is in Doha to break the deadlock between the negotiating sides and help resume negotiations between them. 
Intra-Afghan talks formally began between the Taliban and Afghan negotiators on September 12 in Doha.
The Taliban stress that the deal signed with the US on February 29 should form the basis for the intra-Afghan talks while the republican side suggested four other alternatives. Both the US-Taliban agreement and a joint declaration between the Afghan government, the US and NATO signed at the same time as the Doha agreement should be the basis of the current ongoing negotiations, this is among the four options the republican side proposed. 
Meanwhile, Khalilzad has recently warned in an interview that the US will not leave Afghanistan if the negotiations failed.
Both Afghanistan and the US must avoid mistakes of the 1990s, Khalilzad warned, saying that was the time when Afghanistan descended into a civil war from which the Taliban emerged and gave shelter to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
As for the US, “we will not make the mistake that was made after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was to abandon Afghanistan,” he added.