Oslo meeting wraps up amid harsh criticism from activists

Photo: Reuters

The last day of the two-day Oslo meeting, which was held behind closed doors, reportedly focused on assessing Taliban actions in Afghanistan over the past 22 months.

No journalists were allowed to sit in on the meeting but the Taliban told Amu that Abdul Qahar Balkhi, Taliban spokesman for the foreign ministry, Shamsuddin Mansour, a Taliban representative from the interior ministry and Rohullah Omar, a Taliban representative from the defense ministry, attended the Oslo forum in Norway.

“I think what we have understood over the years and have invested in is the real need for skills in mediation. Sometimes this means that we should be in the suitable place, suitable time and with suitable people and we should invest in peace,” said Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Representatives of some countries as well as a UN representative and a number of political figures from Afghanistan, including Kawon Kakar, Amin Karim, Jafar Mahdawi and Qarmana Kakar also attended the meeting.

One participant who did not want to be named said that matters have been shared as suggestions and it was not a decision-making event.

“I think that bigger political matters such as Afghanistan’s political future, security, economic or development matters should be part of this discussion and the discussion on Afghanistan’s future can be done at such events, but it cannot create necessity for any side,” said Hamid Saboori, an international affairs analyst.

The meeting was met with mixed reactions from activists who protested outside the event venue.

Mina Rafiq, a human rights activist, stood outside the Norwegian foreign ministry on Tuesday and criticized the event.

“Oslo meeting has no relation to the oppressed people of Afghanistan. Such events are only for whitening [image of] the Taliban terrorist group,” said Zarmina Paryani, a protesting woman.

This is the second meeting held in Norway with the presence of Taliban members. Last year, higher-ranking Taliban authorities attended an event in Norway.