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Trump announced USA no longer want to talk with Taliban

31 January, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Hours after President Donlad Trump announced the United States would no longer talk with the Taliban following two recent attacks in capital Kabul, the Taliban said on Tuesday that they would also fight back and “increase the human and financial losses of US troops manifold”.

Trump was talking to members of the UN Security Council on Monday in his apparent reaction to the Taliban two deadly attacks in a week that killed 125 people and injured nearly 300 others.

“Innocent people are being killed left and right. Bombing, in the middle of children, in the middle of families, bombing, killing all over Afghanistan,” Trump said. “So we don’t want to talk with the Taliban. There may be a time but it is going to be a long time,” Trump said.

On January 27, Taliban attacked the police force in a Kabul’s red zone while using an ambulance. Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak on Sunday confirmed 103 people were killed while 235 were wounded in the assault.

On January 20, a group of Taliban suicide bombers stormed the heavily guarded building of Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel in a highly secured part of the city and killed at least 22 people, including 14 foreigners. At least four Americans were among the dead.

The Wall Street Journal reported a spokesman for an indicted Trump campaign official was among the four Americans killed in attack at the hotel. Glenn Selig, CEO of The Publicity Agency and Selig Multimedia Inc of Tampa, was at the Kabul’s hotel when armed militants stormed the building.

The Taliban, who have refused to talk to the Kabul administration and insist on direct talks with the US, threatened more violence in angry reaction to Trump’s refusal of peace talks with them.

“Since Trump and his allies rejected peace, all responsibility of war and bloodletting will also befall upon them because they have not only lit the fire of the ongoing war with their invasion, but have spurned any possibility of peace and understanding,” the Taliban said in response to what they called “anti-peace expressions by US President Trump”.

“Donald Trump and his war-mongering supporters must understand that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you insist upon war, our Mujahid nation will not welcome you with roses,” a Taliban statement said.

Although there is currently nothing on ground on political front, Trump’s refusal to shift focus away from military option, has killed chances of peace process at least for now.

Trump’s approach could also be seen a setback for Pakistan’s latest efforts to encourage the Taliban to join the peace negotiations. The Taliban political office confirmed last week that its representatives visited Pakistan after “Pakistani government recently expressed its desire to help in the political solution to the Afghan problem and exchange views”.

Whatever the Taliban political office says, the Taliban leadership must take responsibility for destroying chances of any political process with their attacks in public places. It is better that both the US-led Resolute Support Mission and the Taliban fighters test their muscles in battle fields, in mountains and away from civil population and cities.

Nearly 14,000 American forces now live in heavily-guarded nine bases. The Taliban and Daesh carry out attacks in cities and crowded areas.

Trump’s public refusal to talk to the Taliban is surprising for many, but his approach is not new as his Afghan strategy announced in August was also mainly focused on military option with little space for peace process.

“America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field,” Trump had stated in his Afghan strategy. The US president believes “after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.”

As Trump and the Taliban stick to guns, Foreign Office spokesman said Tuesday that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States, was the most appropriate forum to help take the Afghan owned and Afghan peace process forward.

Dr Muhammad Faisal said in Radio Pakistan’s Current Affairs programme that Pakistan supported all peace initiatives to resolve Afghan problem.

The US had hosted diplomats from the QCG member states in Muscat, Oman last year. They marked the revival of the process after the death in a US drone strike of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in May 2016. No date was fixed for the next QCG meeting in Muscat. Trump’s latest rhetoric could also slowdown the QCG process.

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