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Taliban: No peace until Ghani is in power

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KABUL: The Taliban group says there will be no peace in Afghanistan unless President Ashraf Ghani is removed from power and a new government is established in Kabul.

A spokesman for the insurgents, who is also a member of the group’s negotiating team, Suhail Shaheen was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that their fighters would cease fighting when an inclusive government replace Ghani’s government. Shaheen called Ghani a war monger, saying that he used his Eid-Speech to promote hostility against the Taliban.

With the U.S. and NATO forces are to complete their exit, the Taliban are making rapid territorial gains across the country, ramping up pressure on the government to meet its wishes on the negotiating table.

Talking to a Pentagon news room, the U.S. joint chief of army staff, Mark Milley hinted that the Taliban are gaining “strategic moment”, rarely expecting a complete takeover of the war-torn country by the group’s fighters. The U.S. Minister of Defense, Llyod Austin, talking to the same press conference, said that the troops’ withdrawal had been 95 percent completed.

“I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments who (sought) to monopolize power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments,” said Shaheen, apparently including the Taliban’s own five-year rule in that assessment. “So we do not want to repeat that same formula.”

Referring to the widespread fraud of 2019 presidential election- that also triggered a longtime dispute between the two feuding leaders- President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah- Shaheen said that Ghani has no right to govern.

To end the longstanding disagreement, Ghani and Abdullah reached a power-sharing deal that declared Ghani as No 1 and Abdullah as No 2 in the government.

However, Ghani has constantly denied of submitting power unless a new election that can determine next government is held. The critics of President Ghani see him as a feud leader who has been trying his best to remain in power- and therefore attempts to sabotage the peace process.

Last week, a high level delegation, led by chairman of the high council for national reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah failed to fulfill the expectation of people- a ceasefire- at least during the three-day holidays of Eid-al-Adha.

The Taliban spokesman termed the negotiations as a good beginning but the spokesman added that repeated demands for a truce while Ghani remained in power is similar to demanding the Taliban surrender.

 “They don’t want reconciliation, but they want surrendering,” he said.

Before any ceasefire, there must be an agreement on a new government “acceptable to us and to other Afghans,” he said. Then “there will be no war.”

Regarding the militants’ stand before women, Shaheen said that the group will allow women to work, go to school and take part in politics but they should be wearing Hijabs.

But reports leaked to the media, say of the Taliban’s harsh and reckless behavior with civilians- men and women- in the areas under their control. A spokesman for the group, Zabiullah Mujahid earlier denied it as propagandas against the militants, saying that the photos and videos belongs to the past and the ISIS-K members or even are fake.  But Shaheen admit that some of the group’s commander ignored the order of the leadership and they were punished.

The U.S. top General, Mark Milley said that the group has control over half of the districts in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban control about half of Afghanistan’s 419 district centers, and while they have yet to capture any of the 34 provincial capitals, they are pressuring about half of them, Milley said. In recent days, the U.S. has carried out airstrikes in support of beleaguered Afghan government troops in the southern city of Kandahar, around which the Taliban have been amassing, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday.”

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