Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen in an interview says that his group does not ‘believe in the monopoly of power’ and that current Afghan government doesn’t want reconciliation, but surrendering of Taliban.
Suhail Shaheen, Taliban spokesperson and a member of peace negotiating team, has said the group won’t stop fighting until Afghanistan has a new government that is acceptable to all sides.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Shaheen said, “We do not believe in the monopoly of power because any government who wants to monopolise power in Afghanistan in the past, they were not successful governments. So, we do not want to repeat that failed formula.”
He added, that the Afghan government doesn’t want reconciliation, but surrendering of Taliban saying, “They want, ‘come and have ceasefire and we will continue our government as it is.’ So that is also not a realistic approach, not a pragmatic approach.”, emphasising that Afghans should agree upon a new government that would replace current Kabul administration.
Captured districts by mediation and talks
Commenting on Taliban’s strategy in capturing Afghan districts, Shaheen said that those districts have been fallen under their control through mediation of the people and talks, not through fighting saying: “It would have been very hard for us to take 194 districts just in eight, eight weeks.”
The Taliban have swiftly captured territory in recent weeks, seized strategic border crossings and are threatening a number of provincial capitals, as the last US and NATO soldiers leave Afghanistan.
This week, the top US military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, told a Pentagon press conference that the Taliban have “strategic momentum,” and he did not rule out a complete Taliban takeover.
US-NATO withdrawal nearly complete
The US-NATO withdrawal is more than 95 percent complete and due to be finished by August 31.
Shaheen said the Taliban will lay down their weapons when a negotiated government acceptable to all sides in the conflict is installed in Kabul and Ghani’s government is gone.
But he was also uncompromising on the continued rule of Ghani, calling him a war monger and accusing him of using his Tuesday speech on the Islamic holy day of Eid al Adha to promise an offensive against the Taliban.
Shaheen dismissed Ghani’s right to govern, resurrecting allegations of widespread fraud that surrounded Ghani’s 2019 election win.
After that vote, both Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah declared themselves president. In a compromise deal, Abdullah is now second in the government and heads the reconciliation council.
Ghani has often said he will remain in office until new elections can determine the next government.
His critics — including ones outside the Taliban — accuse him of seeking only to keep power, causing splits among government supporters.
Last weekend, Abdullah headed a high-level delegation to the Qatari capital Doha for talks with Taliban leaders.
It ended with promises of more talks, as well as greater attention to the protection of civilians and infrastructure.
Shaheen called the talks a good beginning. But he said the government’s repeated demands for a ceasefire while Ghani stayed in power were tantamount to demanding a Taliban surrender.
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.”
Shaheen said under this new government, women will be allowed to work, go to school, and participate in politics, but will have to wear the hijab, or headscarf.
He said women won’t be required to have a male relative with them to leave their home, and that Taliban commanders in newly occupied districts have orders that universities, schools and markets operate as before, including with the participation of women and girls.
However, there have been repeated reports from captured districts of Taliban imposing harsh restrictions on women, even setting fire to schools.
One gruesome video that emerged appeared to show Taliban killing captured commandos in northern Afghanistan.
Shaheen said some Taliban commanders had ignored the leadership’s orders against repressive and drastic behaviour and that several have been put before a Taliban military tribunal and punished, though he did provide specifics.