Published: Sat, February 02, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Taliban say they are not looking to rule Afghanistan alone

Taliban say they are not looking to rule Afghanistan alone

He insisted the Taliban does not seek a monopoly on power in a future government seize power but it wants an inclusive administration in which all Afghans have a share in it.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman based in Qatar where the Taliban have a political office, said that once United States forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban want to live with other Afghans, "tolerate one another and start life like brothers".

Taliban officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that the two sides had reached an understanding about the withdrawal of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops and that the militant group had made assurances that Afghan soil would not be used again for attacks against the United States or others.

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan told reporters Tuesday that there has been no change in the USA military strategy in Afghanistan, which is to force the Taliban to the peace table by realigning troops to train and advise Afghans and by getting greater support from the region. "Go quickly and we risk giving away too much to the Taliban". Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said his team had agreed on the "draft of a framework" for a peace plan with the militant group, but stressed that key points - include the time table for a us withdrawal and ceasefire arrangements - still needed to be hammered out.

Talks led by Khalilzad must be given time to work, Shanahan said.

The Afghan government's hold over the countryside continues to wane, while the numbers of its security forces have shrunk to a record low, a USA government watchdog said Wednesday.

"For sure the negotiation is on the table, but if we are not going in the right direction [in the peace talks] we are not succeeding".

The last time a foreign power withdrew troops from Afghanistan, peace talks collapsed and the Taliban dragged the body of the country's former president through the streets in a gruesome public execution.

A month ago, Pakistan assured Khalilzad that it would back a negotiated settlement with the Taliban to end the long war in Afghanistan.

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told a conference in Kabul on January 30 that the "key to peace was in Afghanistan", while the "keys to war are in Islamabad, Quetta, [and] Rawalpindi" - meaning Pakistan. He has warned that his government will not repeat the mistakes of former President Najibullah, who was murdered by the Taliban when it overtook Kabul in 1996, seven years after Soviet forces withdrew.

Officials say President Donald Trump has chose to pull half of America's forces from Afghanistan.

The U.S. troops in Afghanistan are part of a NATO-led mission and a U.S. counterterrorism mission largely directed at groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Khalilzad has held several rounds of negotiations with the Taliban in recent months. Khalilzad has also pressed Ghani's government, which is deeply divided, to cobble together a strong negotiating team.

Despite the Taliban insurgents' refusal to negotiate with Kabul, Shaheen's message appeared directed at a wide array of stakeholders in Afghanistan - possibly even Ghani's government - who could work together to hasten USA troop pullout.

It put districts under government control or influence at 53.8 per cent covering 63.5 percent of the population by October 2018, with the rest of the country controlled or contested by the Taliban.

However, the Taliban have so far refused another key United States demand - that they talk to the internationally recognized government in Kabul, which the insurgents view as American "puppets".

"The withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan is a shared responsibility and a pride for all Afghans", Shaheen said.

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