Taliban Chief: Group Engaging Peace Talks with ‘Utmost Seriousness’

FILE - In this May 27, 2016 file photo, Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan. Two senior Taliban figures said that Pakistan has issued a stark warning to the militant group, apparently surprised over being excluded from the …
AP Photos/Allauddin Khan, File

U.S. participation in peace talks in Afghanistan is a sign that “the time of demise and humiliation of these tyrants has come near,” the Taliban supreme leader declared on Thursday.

Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada stressed that the terrorist group is engaged in the negotiations with “utmost seriousness.”

He issued a statement ahead of the Eid Al-Adha (“Festival of the Sacrifice”) Muslim holiday.

His message comes amid a sharp increase in Taliban perpetrated violence across the country. Taliban narco-jihadis have intensified their insurgency during the estimated year of negotiations.

In the statement, the Taliban chief suggested that the United States is seeking peace because it is losing the war.

He attributed peace-seeking efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to “the failure of numerous military strategies over the past eighteen years.”

Taliban jihadis “have taken [the] military initiative from the enemy on the ground and left them with only blind airstrikes,” he declared, adding, “The enemy has turned towards mass killing of our people because of defeat and uncertainty.”

Despite an unprecedented airstrike campaign under Trump, the Taliban has continued to conquer territory. It now controls or contests about half of Afghanistan.

Akhundzada emphasized that the Taliban is fighting to establish a sharia-compliant Islamic emirate in Afghanistan, saying, “Whether we perform armed Jihad for the cause of Allah or engage in dialogue and negotiation processes, both are a means for ending the occupation and establishing an Islamic system.”

Referring to the ongoing peace negotiations, he declared:

[The Taliban] is engaging in it with utmost seriousness, worthwhile steps have been taken by the political office, the process is administered by the political deputy leader and a strong negotiation team is appointed hence you must also pursue this process with sincerity so that effective steps are taken towards a resolution and the eighteen-year tragedy brought to an end.

However, the increasing blind and brutal bombings by America during the negotiation process, attacks on civilian areas and the contradictory statements by your military and political officials has generated a cloud of uncertainty about this process and raised doubts about your intentions. Since bilateral trust is the foundation of a successful negotiations process therefore it is imperative that such negative actions are ceased.

Akhundzada highlighted the recent United Nations findings that the U.S.-led coalition had killed more civilians in recent months than the Taliban and other terrorist groups. However, he failed to mention that the Taliban is the chief perpetrator of casualties as a whole, including injuries.

Akhundzada did call on his followers to refrain from harming civilians during the Eid days.

The Trump administration has conceded that military victory in Afghanistan is unattainable at this point. Trump’s South Asia strategy to end the war, unveiled in 2017, makes the political reconciliation between Kabul and the Taliban the primary goal.

However, the Taliban continues to renege on negotiating with the Afghan government, dismissing it as an American “puppet.” The terrorists claim they will only talk with Kabul after the full withdrawal of foreign forces.

Taliban terrorists have repeatedly rejected Kabul’s olive branch offer of a ceasefire and recognition as a political group. Kabul has even invited the Taliban to participate in the upcoming presidential election, but the group continues to refuse.

The Taliban has vowed to disrupt the elections violently.

Reacting to the Taliban chief’s remarks, Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani indicated that “his statement rife with fear, terror, and war,” Khaama Press (KP) reports, adding:

Sediqqi said the Taliban group is the main factor behind the destruction of the country and civilian casualties.

He also added that the Afghan people want the Taliban to stop war and destruction, emphasizing that the people of Afghanistan will no more be deceived by the group.

The Trump administration has indicated it plans to leave behind a residual force to ensure the Taliban keeps its promises and to serve as stewards of U.S. foreign aid. Taliban jihadis have rejected the proposal.

The Taliban wants foreign troops out, but it wants to keep U.S. aid coming into the country. U.S. and Taliban negotiators have participated in eight rounds of peace talks in nearly a year. Both sides have touted progress.

Negotiators have agreed on the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for Taliban assurances that Afghanistan will no longer harbor international terrorists. The U.S. is also pushing for a ceasefire and intra-Afghan negotiations. Trump administration officials hope to have a deal by September 1.

On Wednesday, the Taliban carried out an attack that killed at least 14 people and wounded nearly 150 others.

This week, U.S. troops also launched airstrikes that killed at least 25 Taliban militants in south-eastern Ghazni province. Afghan forces on the ground killed another Taliban jihadi and wounded three others.

Nearly 18 years after the September 11 attacks, the Taliban and al-Qaeda remain allies and Afghanistan continues to serve as a haven for both, the United Nations reported recently.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to remove the Taliban regime for harboring al-Qaeda, the chief perpetrators of the attacks.

Taliban terrorists have come out against the U.S. plans to leave behind a small force to continue fighting terror and keep an eye on the Taliban promises.

According to the Pentagon, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the highest concentration of terrorists in the world.

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