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‘American defeat and Taliban victory’ is a false narrative, Khurram

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KABUL: Peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar are a very positive step and we Afghans can reap its benefits if we come to our senses and grab the opportunity, according to Abdul Karim Khurram, who was Chief of Staff during former President Hamid Karzai.

Under President Karzai, the US presence in Afghanistan did not reach a stage to allow for peace talks with the Taliban. Now, Americans are convinced that their presence in Afghanistan has reached a stage where it is necessary to negotiate. In the meantime, we, as a nation, must take the initiative and have the ability to catch the opportunity.

At present, the Americans are in charge of Afghanistan’s military and civilian administration. They control our country’s economy and political system and even the legislature. And I don’t think the United States will end its security and intelligence presence and leave Afghanistan soon. But the Americans no longer need their troops in Afghanistan when there is no war. The Taliban fought the United States before, but they no longer attack the Americans and their war is over. Thus, they will keep a very small number of troops in Afghanistan in the name of guarding its embassies and consulates, and will evacuate the rest. But there is a need for a few bases which will be maintained. The United States, on the other hand, has created an intelligence network in Afghanistan in which both Afghans and Americans are employed. The United States will maintain this status quo to pursue its goals in the future, using the facilities it has in Afghanistan. Part of America’s goals is to control the forces like ISIS, and al-Qaeda. The US facilities in Afghanistan will be used for US activities in the region.

The Taliban’s claim about US withdrawal, its victory and comparing US exit with the withdrawal of Soviet troops and the success of the Mujahideen is not true. As the intra-Afghan talks drag on, Afghanistan will be hanging in the balance and the Taliban will control their areas and the government will control their areas, and some forces in the north will probably control their areas. Stopping the war and bloodshed and forming a government that is acceptable to all the forces is the main goal of peace talks. But, my concern is that in the run-up to the US election a peace deal will be signed which will not stop the war, nor will we form a government acceptable to all forces and people.

However, the Taliban cannot rely on their power to seize the entire Afghanistan. But if the United States joins forces with the Taliban, it can establish the Taliban’s control all across the country. My assessment is that America does not want that right now. If it wants to support the Taliban, the group will occupy the entire country in less than a week.

Some argue that in the future a system may be agreed upon in which there is a religious leader like Iran with one person as the chief executive and the Taliban leaders will have a stake in the government. It is even said that President Ghani may approve of this model if he holds the same post of head of the executive branch. Another possibility is interim administration or the transitional government. I know these models better, despite their shortcomings. But if we are in a situation where there is neither war nor peace, Afghans lose their lives in sporadic wars without a single government in control, it is dangerous for all situations and scenarios.

We had several meetings with Taliban leaders in Moscow, listening to Taliban leaders and exchanging views with them. We saw reasonableness in them in these meetings. They said they did not want a monopoly of power. I am not too worried about the Taliban’s position, I am afraid of a situation where the result will not be achieved and there will be a state of confusion and uncertainty.

I have always said that the only country that is more likely to accept the Taliban Islamic Emirate is the United States. Nothing is unlikely from America. China does not accept the Taliban Emirate, so won’t Russia nor Iran and Central Asian countries. Even Pakistan won’t also accept it because Afghanistan becomes an Islamic emirate, the Pakistani Taliban will pledge allegiance to it and then create problems for Pakistan itself. In past two decades, we have seen in practice that the United States was doing something under the guise of fighting terrorism, which was in fact strengthening and cultivating what was called terrorism and extremism, not preventing it. There is no doubt in the United States that it will accept the Taliban emirate and its absolute sovereignty, and this area should be feared. The United States has taken every illegal action in the name of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, building prisons, killing people and carrying out blind bombings.

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