Rare audio message: Taliban open to talks ‘under Sharia’

Published: June 15, 2016
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A file photo of Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. PHOTO: FILE

A file photo of Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The deputy chief of the Afghan Taliban has said that the insurgent group is open to negotiations if held according to the Islamic Sharia.

“The Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan] is not opposed to talks if they are held in line with Sharia and if the international community agrees to this,” Sirajuddin Haqqani, the No. 2 in the Taliban hierarchy, said in a rare audio message.

‘Afghan Taliban will not join peace talks’

Sirajuddin, the kingpin of the deadly Haqqani network, was appointed deputy of Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzada after Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a US drone strike in Naushki district of Balochistan on May 21. Sirajuddin was also deputy to Mansoor.

The Taliban released the 45-minute audio with a brief statement that says Sirajuddin has talked about important issues. A copy of the audio is available to The Express Tribune.

Sirajuddin was speaking at a recent gathering of Taliban writers and members of the group’s media section and was replying to a question about the impression that the Taliban only believe in war and are not amenable to political dialogue.

“Our Political Commission deals with the issue of negotiations. If we were opposed to talks, we would have not formed this commission,” he added. “This was a consensus decision of the Taliban leadership.”

Sirajuddin’s statement came at a time when diplomatic efforts for revival of peace talks have been scuttled by the Naushki drone strike. The Taliban deputy chief, however, rejected calls for entering into dialogue with the ‘powerless Kabul administration’.

Afghan Taliban may return to negotiating table

“The international community has imposed a puppet administration on the people of Afghanistan. They are now asking and even forcing us to join it. We cannot accept this demand. The Kabul administration has no power as it cannot implement any decision,” he said.

Asked about the new American policy to expand its drone campaign in Afghanistan to target Taliban leaders, Sirajuddin said this policy would fail the way all US strategies failed over the past 14 years. “This will not dent the morale of our Mujahideen. Our organisation and our programmes have become stronger.”

Asked about the status of Haqqani network, he said the Haqqanis were not a separate entity but a part of the Taliban. “We are not a separate group. We have never said this. It is the enemy who thinks we are separate. We have repeatedly said the Islamic Emirate is one,” he argued.

A Taliban official said the message underlined the important role of Sirajuddin within the Taliban and the fact that the insurgent group has almost completed transition of power in a few weeks.

“The Islamic Emirate thought it is appropriate time to release the audio as the US has mounted pressure and the Taliban have also stepped up their operations,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Shuaib
    Jun 15, 2016 - 10:58AM

    These buffons should join the Afghanistan Government and end this massive war that is causing mass deaths in Afghanistan. These terrorist only know the language of violence.Recommend

  • kamal
    Jun 15, 2016 - 12:47PM

    @Shuaib: Don’t be naïve. And don’t be swayed by the US propaganda. Sirajuddin Haqqani is what stands between a deep nexus and link between Afghanistan and India (the country chosen by the US to be their policeman in the region). So in effect Haqqani group is the enemy of our enemy (India) and therefore our friend.Recommend

  • Sad but True
    Jun 15, 2016 - 1:13PM

    So Pakistan is supporting these terrorists so that Afghanistan have Sharia rule. Why not start with yourselves first?Recommend

  • lele
    Jun 19, 2016 - 6:20AM

    Indians are too active with changed name.. Why you people not declaring RSS as terrorist organization despite they killed your father of nationRecommend

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