A former Afghan Taliban cadre said on Sunday that the Pakistan Taliban’s war against the state is unjustified as “Islam doesn’t permit Muslims to fight against Muslims”. Agha Jan Mutasim, a former Taliban minister and close aide to Taliban supremo Mullah Omar, also advised the Pakistani government and the army to find a negotiated settlement to the issue.
This is the first time an Afghan Taliban leader has publicly opposed the Pakistani Taliban’s campaign against the state.
“The war of the Pakistani Taliban against the Muslim army and the government of Muslims is against Islam as our religion doesn’t permit this,” Mutasim told The Express Tribune in an exclusive telephone interview on Sunday. “The religious leaders of Pakistan and other influential people should play an active role to end the war in Pakistan as fighting is not in favour of anyone,” he added.
Mutasim had served as finance minister until the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001. He was critically injured in a firing incident in Karachi in 2010 and was shifted to Turkey for treatment.
The Taliban leader also condemned suicide attacks in Pakistan, saying Islam doesn’t allow attacks which kill Muslims whether it is in Pakistan or in Afghanistan. “We’ve economically suffered a lot due to this senseless war and suicide attacks. When we Muslims fight against Muslims the world considers us as backward nations,” he added.
At the same time, Mutasim said the Pakistani government should also review its policy of use of force because it would only prolong hostilities.
Insurgency in Afghanistan
Mutasim opposed the Afghan Taliban’s insurgency. “Fighting own people, own forces and own government is useless. The Afghans are Muslims and you cannot fight against Muslims,” he argued. But he also urged the Kabul administration not to kill its own people [Taliban]. “Both sides should sit together and work out a compromise as the foreign troops are now preparing to pull out,” he said.
“The Taliban could justify their war against foreign forces as they had invaded Afghanistan and the Taliban had to defend their country and their faith. But if the Taliban want to continue the war after the withdrawal of Nato forces it would amount to an anti-Islam action,” he said. He called for an intra-Afghan dialogue to avoid instability in Afghanistan post-2014.
Afghanistan, Mutasim said, is now undergoing a democratic transition and all sides – the Jihadis, political leaders and the government – should keep in mind national and Islamic values because the country is passing through a sensitive phase.
Asked if the Taliban were in a position to take over Afghanistan like they had done in 1996, Mutasim said, “it’s a changed Afghanistan now. And the Taliban are not in a position to overrun the country.”
Unlike the past the Taliban don’t have a support base, he added. “The Taliban had taken over Afghanistan when there was no Afghan army, no police force, no security institutions and the warlords had only control in their respective areas,” he said.
“Now, the world supports the Afghan National Army and the government, while the Taliban do not enjoy support among the Afghans. In the past, the people of Afghanistan supported the Taliban because they were fed up with the warlords,” he said. However, he added that the Taliban could intensify the insurgency and create problems in most parts of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.