ISLAMABAD: A day before a crucial meeting to discuss a roadmap for Afghan peace, the Taliban have accused the United States of derailing the process by carrying out combat operations in the country.
The US has reportedly deployed special troops in Helmand to assist beleaguered Afghan soldiers against the insurgents in the wake of heavy fighting and casualties.
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The accusations come at a time when top diplomats from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US are set to hold another round of consultations on how to restart the stalled Afghan reconciliation process.
The quadrilateral huddle in Kabul on Monday (today) will discuss a roadmap Kabul had presented in the first four-way meeting held in Islamabad on January 11.
The Taliban, who have not yet decided to join the talks, are now shifting the blame on the US for violating its commitment to withdraw military assistance in Afghanistan after 2014. Their official website strongly criticised the US for interference.
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“Now the invaders have once again started fighting contrary to their previous promises,” the Taliban said in a statement just a day ahead of the Kabul meeting. “These activities of invaders have shaken the miserable Afghan nation because from one side there are hues and cries regarding deceitful peace and on the other hand the invaders have started a new war here.”
The Washington Post has reported the US deployed Special Operations troops in Helmand to assist their Afghan counterparts. The extent of their operations has, however, not been publicised.
US troops were also involved in operations after the Taliban briefly took over the strategic Kunduz city in September in a huge embarrassment for the Nato-trained Afghan forces, who fled the city without any significant resistance to the insurgents.
Taliban toughen stance on peace talks ahead of quadrilateral meeting
Afghan analysts say the Taliban will not join talks until their conditions get attention.
Nazar Mutmaen, who regularly writes on the Taliban and security issues for Afghan and foreign media, said meetings would not produce any results unless the Taliban independently take part and their conditions were met.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2016.
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