Launching an appeal for a ceasefire in Afghanistan, a senior Taliban leader on Monday warned of a possible civil war following the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from the war-torn country.
Mullah Agha Jan Mutasim – who once headed the powerful political commission of the Afghan Taliban – said Afghanistan has bled for over three decades because “alien conspirators” used the Afghans against each other. He, however, did not name any foreign country.
Mutasim was critically injured in a firing incident in Karachi in August last year – apparently for his quest for peace.
After receiving treatment at a Karachi hospital he proceeded to Turkey for further treatment. Afghan sources told The Express Tribune that Mutasim has initiated efforts to unite some former senior Taliban cadres in a bid to launch a peace initiative.
Mutasim, a former close confidant of Mullah Omar, had served as finance minister in the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001.
According to sources, Mutasim recently visited an Arab country to meet a group of Taliban leaders who are willing to join the reconciliation process. He is also said to have offered to play a role in the Saudi peace initiative.
Mutasim called for a broad-based intra-Afghan dialogue, urging all stakeholders to cease hostilities. So far, the Taliban have rejected the possibility of any dialogue with the Karzai government.
“Alien enemy has taken advantage of the internal rift of Afghans and the time has come for the latter to learn a lesson from the bitter experiences of the past and reach an understanding,” Mutasim said in a statement emailed to The Express Tribune. He said Afghans should now accept, accommodate and forgive each other, and work for national unity.
It is the first time a senior Taliban leader has called for a ceasefire and an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Mutasim said US-led Nato troops are pulling out and if the Afghans could not reach any agreement before 2014, they would be pushed into another civil war. Afghanistan had slid into a deadly civil war following the withdrawal of the then Soviet forces in the late 1980s.
“The post-Soviet civil war had ravaged Afghanistan, and the destruction had paved the way for foreign aggression,” he said referring to the US-led invasion in 2001.
“So all Afghans, if they are Jihadi groups, political groups and alliances must set aside differences and pursue the politics of unity and understanding and resolve differences through negotiation,” he said.
Before Mutasim, former prime minister and chief of Hizb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, had also warned of a possible civil war in Afghanistan in an interview The Express Tribune this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.