By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: The chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said Saturday the often-fractured Afghan political leadership must be united in its peace talks with the Taliban or risk more bitter fighting as the US and NATO withdraws, AP reported. Dr. Abdullah said the time is now for Afghanistan’s political leaders to stand united in the talks.
In an interview with AP in Kabul, Abdullah warned that history and millions of Afghans — already frustrated by what they see as government ineptitude and runaway corruption — will judge them harshly if unity eludes the powerful leaders now in Kabul.
In the early 1990s bitter fighting between many of the same leaders killed thousands of mostly civilians in the capital and gave rise to the Taliban, who took power in 1996, the report said.
Abdullah said the withdrawal that officially began Saturday of the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 US troops and about 7,000 NATO allied forces will present “huge challenges.”
“I wouldn’t call it the end of the world for our people. I would say that it will be very challenging and that’s why I am of the opinion that the whole focus has to be on achieving peace, that does not only take us, it takes the other side,” he said.
Still, Abdullah said he is unconvinced the Taliban want peace. He said the National Reconciliation Council, of which he is the chairman, has put out countless calls for the Taliban to put all their demands on the table.
Messages go back and forth between a variety of Taliban to senior negotiators, including himself, said Abdullah. He noted that he has received countless messages from Taliban officials, some written, some as voice messages. Sometimes they are detailed, and other times terse and brief. But he said he has yet to see a commitment to peace from the insurgent group on which he can rely.
Abdullah said his response to the Taliban has been consistent: “Put everything that you want on the negotiating table. We are ready to discuss it. We are ready to find ways that it works for both sides.” He said the withdrawal adds pressure on both sides to find a peace deal.
On Saturday, the Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib condemned the ongoing violence by the Taliban, saying the government does not see any justification for the violence as the US and NATO forces have begun withdrawing from Afghanistan.
“The Taliban is a force that is only seeking power,” Mohib said. “They use different tactics to justify the violence. If they justify the killing of the civilians, they even justify being slaves of an intelligence agency.”
Mohib said that al Qaeda is playing a key role in keeping the Taliban’s war machine active in Afghanistan. “The Taliban claims that no other group can conduct the (war), except them, the Taliban also claims that when they give an order the violence stops and no one is there to launch an attack. In this scenario, all responsibility goes to the Taliban,” he said. “But there are also other groups that conduct such activities. You saw the statement of Al Qaeda. Daesh is also operating there, but all these are carrying out their activities in harmony with the Taliban.”