Nearly half of coun­try is un­der Tal­iban con­trol & they are more pow­er­ful than in 2001

Millennium Post - - Front Page -

IS­LAM­ABAD: The Afghan Tal­iban has said that de­spite the on­go­ing talks with the US and other re­gional pow­ers, it had “not yet reached” any con­clu­sion that would en­tail an im­me­di­ate end to hos­til­i­ties against Amer­ica and its al­lies, ac­cord­ing to a me­dia re­port.

“We are forced to wage war. Our en­e­mies are at­tack­ing us; there­fore, we are also com­bat­ing them,” Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­ul­lah Mu­jahid was quoted as say­ing by Dawnnewstv.

The Tal­iban con­trol nearly half of Afghanistan, and are more pow­er­ful than at any time since the 2001 Us-led in­va­sion af­ter the 9/11 ter­ror at­tacks in 2001.

In a series of tweets af­ter six days of talks with the Tal­iban rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Doha last month, Spe­cial US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Afghanistan Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Zal­may Khalilzad said the US has made “sig­nif­i­cant progress” in its peace talks with the Tal­iban.

“We have a draft of the frame­work that has to be fleshed out be­fore it be­comes an agree­ment,” Khalilzad said at the time. “The Tal­iban have com­mit­ted, to our sat­is­fac­tion, to do what is nec­es­sary that would pre­vent Afghanistan from ever be­com­ing a plat­form for in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist groups or in­di­vid­u­als.”

Since be­ing ap­pointed in Septem­ber, Khalilzad has met with all sides in an at­tempt to end Amer­ica’s long­est war in which the US has lost over 2,400 sol­diers in more than 17 years.

But Mu­jahid said that, even in Moscow talks, noth­ing con­crete was achieved that would com­pel them to end the war and mil­i­tary pres­sure, the chan­nel re­ported.

He in­sisted that the Tal­iban are hold­ing talks with the United States “on their own ini­tia­tive”.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion re­gard­ing the tim­ing of the talks, the mil­i­tant com­man­der ex­plained that, even prior to the US in­va­sion, the Tal­iban had asked Washington to en­gage in di­a­logue in­stead of war, the chan­nel said.

He said that they had even­tu­ally even opened a po­lit­i­cal of­fice in Doha, Qatar in 2013 for this pur­pose, but Washington had been un­will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate at the time.

The spokesper­son said that now that the US is will­ing to talk, they have de­cided to en­gage with them.

When asked about Pak­istan’s role in bring­ing the Tal­iban to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble, Mu­jahid said: “There is no role be­ing played by any out­side coun­try. This has al­ways been our own ini­tia­tive and pol­icy.”

He, how­ever, said that if the Tal­iban do end up hav­ing a say in the Afghan polity one day, they will ap­proach Pak­istan “as a brother and a neigh­bour”, seek­ing “com­pre­hen­sive ties based on mu­tual re­spect.”

He ac­knowl­edged that Pak­istan had re­mained “the most im­por­tant hub” for Afghan refugees dur­ing the Soviet in­va­sion.

Mu­jahid said that while the Tal­iban do not have a cod­i­fied man­i­festo, their “clear” ob­jec­tives were the end of the oc­cu­pa­tion of Afghanistan, es­tab­lish­ment of an Is­lamic govern­ment, es­tab­lish­ment of peace and se­cu­rity, re­con­struc­tion of Afghanistan and the pro­vi­sion of ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices.

He also said a new con­sti­tu­tion will be drafted and “im­ple­mented in light of the teach­ings of (the) Shariah.

On a ques­tion re­gard­ing the pos­si­ble for­ma­tion of an in­terim govern­ment in Afghanistan, he said that the Tal­iban had nei­ther held any dis­cus­sions re­gard­ing an in­terim govern­ment nor had they pro­posed such an idea.

Ex­plain­ing the Tal­iban po­si­tion on re­fus­ing to talk to the govern­ment in Kabul, Mu­jahid said that any talks with Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani regime would have sym­bolic ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

If the Tal­iban were to hold talks with the Kabul govern­ment, it would mean that they had “ac­cepted this stooge regime as a le­git­i­mate gov- ern­ment (even though it was) im­posed upon us by air­craft and (the) bomb­ing of in­vaders”, he said.

He said that talks be­tween two op­pos­ing pow­ers are meant to achieve a mu­tual res­o­lu­tion to out­stand­ing is­sues and the re-es­tab­lish­ment of peace and sta­bil­ity. “This process does not mean [a] part­ner­ship with any­one,” he said.

Mu­jahid added that the Tal­iban be­lieve that as long as Afghanistan is oc­cu­pied, cease­fires and in­tra-afghan talks would not amount to much.

“We first and fore­most have to put an end to the oc­cu­pa­tion and then fo­cus on re­solv­ing our in­ter­nal is­sues.”

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion re­gard­ing the Tal­iban’s sup­port to the al-qaeda lead­er­ship, which led to the 2001 in­va­sion of Afghanistan, Mu­jahid said that: “The Is­lamic Emi­rate shel­tered those for­eign Mu­jahideen (Al Qaeda op­er­a­tives) that had ar­rived in Afghanistan dur­ing the pe­riod of ji­had against the Soviet Union and re­mained be­hind as [an] inheritance. Their pro­tec­tion was a re­li­gious and cul­tural ne­ces­sity.”

How­ever, he said that cur­rently there was “no one that needed (the Tal­iban’s) shel­ter”.

“The Is­lamic Emi­rate (Tal­iban govern­ment) shall never al­low any­one to harm oth­ers from our soil,” he as­serted.

Mu­jahid said that any talks with Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani regime would have sym­bolic ram­i­fi­ca­tions

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