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Afghan Taliban attached conditions to talks with Kabul govt

24 December, 2018

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Afghan Taliban have attached conditions to talks with the Kabul government that also include cancellation of a security agreement signed with United States to keep a limited number of troops in the country.

Afghanistan and the US had signed the Bilateral Security Agreement or BSA to allow around 10,000 military service members in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan security forces.

Taliban had long been refusing to hold talks with the Kabul administration on the plea that it is a party to the conflict and has no powers to make decisions.

“The US is the real party to the war and the Kabul regime is part of the American side and has no separate status. The power centre is the US embassy and command of the foreign forces and not the presidential palace and that is why the Islamic Emirate held talks with the US and asked them to quit Afghanistan,” a Taliban commentary said.

“If the Kabul administration wants to reach an understanding with the Islamic Emirate, it should first immediately scrap the bilateral security agreement with the US, and tell the Americans to leave Afghanistan, tender apology for the crimes committed by foreigners and their local allies since their invasion and signing the BSA and hand over the cases to the Islamic court of national traitors for their crimes against humanity,” the commentary said.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who led the US side in two-day talks with the Taliban leaders in the United Arab Emirate on December 17-18, also slammed the Taliban for refusing to meet Afghan negotiators, which were also attended by security, military and intelligence officials from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and other officials had taken credit for facilitating the talks in UAE but could not succeed to convince the Taliban meet Afghans. Pakistani officials insist reconciliation is an Afghan affair and bringing the Taliban to the table is a shared responsibility of all countries, which have contacts with the Taliban political office.

The Taliban on Sunday expressed doubts about the US move to hold talks with the Taliban leaders.

“The US role, to a large extent, is seemed to be dubious and contradictory as on one side Zalmay Khalilzad had been involved in talks with the Islamic Emirate over the past few months and also paid visits to different countries, but on the other the US has intensified the war with airstrikes and ground operations. The NATO chief and the US chairman of the joint chiefs of the staff committee are saying they will not withdraw troops and to extend invasion,” the Taliban said on website on Sunday.

The Taliban commentary said the US coming to the table is their political success and that end to the on-going war through political debate and negotiations will not be easy as it is expected but it needs deep thinking and detailed discussions. Defence experts in Afghanistan say Taliban cannot win the war even if the US withdraw most of the remaining troops as Afghan security forces are capable of resisting the Taliban. Shah Nawaz Tanai, who briefly served as defence minister during the communist regime, told Daily Times that the Afghan army and other forces can defend the present system despite the fact that the US and its NATO allies have not given heavy weapons to the Afghan forces.

“A vast majority of Afghans also favour the democratic system and political governments and majority do not accept the Taliban,” he said from Kabul where has leads a political party. Talking about the US decision to withdraw half of the troops, Tanai said the move could be an attempt to encourage the Taliban strike a peace deal. He however said if the Taliban did not reach a deal then war could be intensified in Afghanistan.

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