Taliban again invite Trump to ‘direct talks’ over Afghan crisis

* Ghani warns Taliban to surrender or Afghan Special Forces will make them surrender * Gen Nicholson says ‘enemy’ has no choice but to run or die

Taliban again invite Trump to ‘direct talks’ over Afghan crisis

ISLAMABAD: As President Donald Trump has delayed the long-awaited policy on the future US role in Afghanistan, which was scheduled to be unveiled on August 18, a Taliban leader has advised the American administration to hold direct talks with the militant outfit to end the America’s longest war.

Reports quoted US Defence Secretary James Mattis as saying President Trump has taken a decision on Afghan review but he did not offer any comments as to when it would be announced.

Former Taliban minister Agha Jan Mutasim says the Taliban are willing to talk to the US and that President Trump should come up with a positive response to help find out a political solution to the Afghan problem.

Afghan Taliban have long been insisting on direct talks with the US as they believe that Americans had dislodged their government and that only they have the power to decide the fate of Afghanistan.

Mutasim, who is now campaigning for political solution to the Afghan conflict, however, said the Taliban should not only be adamant on talks with the US but also join the intra-Afghan dialogue. “The Taliban should sit with the Afghan government. No doubt the real power to solve the problem lies with the US and its NATO allies, but the gov’t and the Taliban are also important sides and must begin mutual peace negotiations,” the Taliban leader told Daily Times on Sunday.

“Taliban and the Kabul administration should reach an agreement on mechanism for the dialogue,” he said. He also invited attention of President Trump to the Taliban’s recent ‘open letter’ in which they urged the US administration to leave Afghanistan.

To a question, the Taliban leader said currently no formal contact existed between the Afghan government and the Taliban. “However, there are informal contacts between the individuals of both sides.”

On Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani warned Taliban to either surrender or the Afghan Special Forces and Commandos will force them to surrender.

Ghani told the Afghan National Army’s elite Special Operations Command in Kabul that ‘enemies’ are the agents of aliens and that the Special Forces will defeat them, according to a statement.

The US top commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Nicholson, said on the occasion that Afghan commandos were ‘defeating’ the Taliban across Afghanistan. He said the enemy had no choice but to run or die when the Afghan commandos appear on the battlefield.

As Ghani and Gen Nicholson issued warnings to the Taliban, the insurgent group on Sunday took credit for the delay of Trump’s Afghan strategy and said that their intensified attacks have ‘forced’ White House to change its strategy from longer stay to immediate withdrawal.

“We now believe that the US has faced a defeat in Afghanistan. There is no doubt that the military offensives of Mujahideen have proved to be a serious blow to the invaders. We can say that the strategy of the leadership of the Islamic Emirate has won over the strategy of many of the world’s strategists,” a Taliban statement said while commenting on the delay in Trump’s regional review.

The American media had earlier reported that Trump could declare his policy for Afghanistan and the region in July. However, reports suggest that ‘differences’ may be behind the delay.

Mutasim, talking about a recent harsh statement of a Kabul-based Saudi diplomat that the Kingdom considers the Taliban as a terrorist group, said that Saudis should not level allegations against the Taliban but rather work for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. “If Saudis have adopted official policy to consider the Taliban as a terrorist group then it would be a serious setback for the Taliban,” he said.



Published in Daily Times, August 211st 2017.