346 Revista del Instituto Español de Estudios Estratégicos Núm. 2 / 2013 relevant Taliban detainee and the one who would have most to contribute to a peace process. Parallel to these events, relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan appear to be improving considerably after different meetings between their respective presidents in Ankara in December 2012 and London in January of this year. These meetings have primarily focused on working towards Pakistani participation in the peace process. Likewise, Pakistan declared its support for the establishment of a Taliban permanent representation in Doha as well as facilitating travel for leaders in its territory so that they could take part in peace talks. In February 2013, when the leader of a Pakistani religious party that is closely aligned with the Taliban and particularly influential in the Pashtun regions abutting Afghanistan, Maulana Fazl ur Rehman38, travelled to Qatar, he revealed that the Taliban were prepared to establish their permanent representation in Doha.39 His visit to meet with leaders of the Taliban movement was seen as a mission, with the agreement from Pakistani authorities, to persuade the Taliban to resume talks. In turn, one caught a glimpse of how Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan was evolving. Even though the ultimate objective of securing itself a friendly neighbour on its eastern border might have remained unaltered, the methods employed to achieve this aim may indeed have changed. If Pakistan no longer views the Taliban returning to power in Afghanistan as something to be desired, it may endorse a power-sharing solution in Kabul that would see Taliban representatives involved, as well as seeking to curry favour with other non-Pashtun ethnic groups in its neighbour. At any rate, it begs the question of to what extent the Taliban have a genuine interest in peace talks. When reflecting upon a peace process with the Taliban, the interests and aims of at least four actors must be considered: the US, the Afghan government, Pakistan and the Taliban themselves. According to what has transpired from talks held thus far, the US would have placed three demands on the table: that the Taliban renounce violence and pursue their objectives by political means; that they recognise the Afghan Constitution; and commit to not providing any form of support to Al Qaeda. Washington’s aim is to obtain a relatively stable Afghan regime after the withdrawal of international troops enabling them to justify and emerge successfully from a war that has been going on 38 Maulana Fazl ur Rehman is the leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), a Pakistani religious party whose vote base is largely the Pashtun population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. JUI-F has maintained close links with the Taliban movement since it emerged in 1994. 39 The office finally opened in June 2013 only to be closed again the following month. Karzai’s government remonstrated about the use of emblems such as the Taliban flying the flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. US pressure forced the Qatari authorities to remove the flag, provoking anger from the Taliban who decided to close their office and once again bring talks to a standstill.
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