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Surge in foreign troops would not solve Afghan problem: Maulvi Hibatullah Akhundzada

24 June, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban chief Maulvi Hibatullah Akhundzada said on Friday that surge in foreign troops would not solve the Afghan problem, urging the Americans to adopt a diplomatic approach to resolve the issues in Afghanistan.

The comments came amid reports that the US is most likely to deploy 4,000 additional troops that will increase the number of American troops to 12,400. Besides, 6,600 troops from other NATO countries are also present in Afghanistan.

In February, top US commander Gen John Nicholson sought a few thousand additional troops as the US and its NATO allies were facing a "stalemate".

As President Donald Trump's administration is set to announce its review for Afghanistan next month, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress this month that the US was "not winning" the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"If you think that you may break our determination with your military presence and surge of troops, you are making a mistake! This is not the solution of the issue - to continue your occupation on the request of the inept administration of Kabul," the Taliban chief said in his message ahead of Eidul fitr.

Afghans are likely to celebrate Eid on Sunday at a time when a series of recent attacks killed and injured hundreds of people, mostly civilians.

On Thursday, Taliban killed nearly 30 people outside a bank in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, when military personnel and government employees gathered there to receive salaries, according to Afghan officials.

"Those who attacked Afghanistan under the name of maintaining security have themselves destabilised the whole region. The more they insist on maintaining the presence of their forces here or want surge of their forces, the more the regional sensitive against them will intensify. This will lead to instability of the entire region, including Afghanistan," the Taliban chief claimed in the message released in English, Pashto, Dari, Urdu and Arabic languages.

The US and Afghan officials have not commented on the Taliban leader's latest statement; however, they in the past played down such remarks and call it part of propaganda.

Hibatullah insisted that the US lost a great number of soldiers and wasted 16 years in the "meaningless war". "Don't ignore our history! The last 16 years, which you wasted on prolonging the meaningless war, accruing futile expenditures and tarnishing your military and political status can be sufficient enough for you. You lost a great number of your soldiers; martyred and handicapped the Afghans; destroyed their houses and other infrastructures and turned Afghanistan into virtual ruins."

He said that the Taliban have "a comprehensive policy to maintain constructive and good relations with you (US) and the world, including the neighbours, as per the principles" whenever the "illegitimate occupation of Afghanistan comes to an end".

He pressed the Americans to resolve the Afghan issue through diplomatic means instead of confrontation with what he called the "Jihadic" resistance.

"The solution of the Afghan issue through peaceful means is part and parcel of the policy of the Islamic Emirate, should the occupation come to an end. The Political Office has been given the task to find a peaceful solution," he went on to say.

Calling the Afghan rulers "stooge figures", he said they were ready on the behest of America to tip Afghanistan against its neighbours and the region and solely make it a scapegoat of the American interests.

Describing Americans as the key factor behind the war, he urged religious scholars, academics, political personalities, writers, professional cadres and teachers to become one voice against the invasion.

He also showed concern at the current diplomatic tensions in the Gulf and called for peaceful solution.

"We are deeply upset (saddened) by the recent row between Qatar and a number of other Arab countries. We urge the brotherly Arab countries to resolve their internal issues, whatever they are, through understanding," Hibatullah said.

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