Sunday, June 23, 2024

Afghan Taliban commander rejects US peace push


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CHAMAN, Pakistan: A mid-level Afghan Taliban commander, whose fighters held two French journalists hostage for more than a year, said US overtures for peace talks were simply an attempt to divide Islamists.

In a rare insight into the thinking of a Taliban commander, Qari Mahmud Mujahid said the United States was just trying to save face after battlefield losses.

”The blood of thousands of our Mujahideen is bearing fruit and now the US and its allies are begging us to help them find a respectable exit from Afghanistan,” he told Reuters in an interview in the Pakistani border town of Chaman.

The United States is eager to stabilise Afghanistan as much as possible before the end of 2014 — when all NATO combat troops are due home — and has been stressing the need for all militant groups to pursue peace.

The United States has said it remains open to reaching an accord with insurgents ready to sever ties with al Qaeda, renounce violence and respect the Afghan constitution.

Mujahid, a stern-looking figure who carries a US made pistol, is not part of the top Taliban leadership structure — he is a commander in Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul.

But his views shed light on how mid-level commanders interpret the American drive for reconciliation.

”This is their (the United States’) propaganda to divide our various fighting groups. The Taliban had defeated them on the battlefield and now they are working to find out a respectable exit from Afghanistan,” said Mujahid, flanked by guards with AK-47 assault rifles.

On a recent visit to Islamabad, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was time to bring all militant groups to the negotiating table.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since 2001, according to the United Nations, although a recent Pentagon report says it is down. (UNI)


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