Taliban says its fighters will join Afghan security forces after US troops leave

Taliban representatives during the peace talks on Afghanistan held in Moscow on November 9, 2018. (TASS)
Updated 24 July 2019

Taliban says its fighters will join Afghan security forces after US troops leave

  • Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen says Taliban will be part of any future government in Kabul
  • Possibility of a peace deal in the next month, even before Eid on August 11, Shaheen says

ISLAMABAD: Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Tuesday thousands of Taliban fighters would become part of the Afghan army and other security forces after US and other foreign troops left Afghanistan following a peace deal with the United States. 
The United States and the Taliban are close to an agreement to end an 18-year-long Afghan civil war. The deal is expected to be centered on a US pledge to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism, officials say.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will travel to Afghanistan and Qatar from July 22 – August 1 to restart talks with the Taliban in Doha.
“We have agreed that the army will stay as an institution,” the Taliban spokesman told Arab News via telephone when asked about the fate of thousands of Taliban fighters after the peace deal. “The army is required and will remain as a base, as a foundation but reforms are needed.”
He said participants at Moscow’s intra-Afghan conference this month had also called for reforms in Afghan security institutions, adding that future intra-Afghan meetings would decide how reforms would be introduced.
“Yes of course they (Taliban) will be part of the security system. They have rendered huge sacrifices for the liberation of the country,” Shaheen said.
To another question about whether the Taliban would be part of any future political system and the government, the Taliban spokesman answered in the affirmative adding: “But they will not be the part of the present administration. There will be a new system and a new government and we will definitely be part of that.”
When asked if the Taliban could become a political party when foreign troops withdrew, Shaheen said: “Our leadership will decide about the future policy. Our top priority is to end the occupation and second, to establish an Islamic government and we will take Afghans into confidence. Our leaders will decide as to how would we work.”
He said the Taliban would allow women the right to education, jobs and business under Islamic principles, adding that they would have to observe the Islamic veil.
“There had been no curbs on women education during our previous government. But we had been in the state of war that time and had no financial resources and the priority had been to maintain security as there had been anarchy and chaotic situation that time. But we want the world to help us and we will establish good relations with the world and to solve all our problems under an Islamic system,” Shaheen said.
He said the Taliban neither recognized the present system in Kabul nor the constitution in its present form.
“We recognize the constitution as a necessity and want another constitution,” Shaheen said. “We think other institutions are also necessary but we do not recognize the present institutions and that is why we are holding intra-Afghan conferences to discuss how the constitution and institutions should be.”
When asked if the Taliban recognized the present democratic system, Shaheen said: “We believe in an Islamic system.” 
He said there was a possibility the Taliban and the United Sates could “conclude certain final points” in the possible peace deal within a month and even before the Muslim festival of Eid, likely to be celebrated in Afghanistan on Aug. 11.
“I am hopeful we will reach an agreement before Eid,” he said.
To a question about US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that he hoped to have a peace deal by September 1, Shaheen said he was hopeful an agreement could materialize even before that as “we want to end bloodshed and destruction in our country.”
“The ball is in their (US) court,” Shaheen said. “They should come up with a reasonable offer.”

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.