Taliban claim progress in regime talks

Officials say new framework for govt expected in days

August 22, 2021
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, speaks during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban in Doha, Qatar September 12, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS


The Taliban claimed making progress in their talks on Saturday aimed at forming an inclusive government in Afghanistan and ensuring security across the country since taking the capital Kabul last weekend, indicating that fears of a civil war breaking out in the country might be on the wane.

The statement of a Taliban official came hours after Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s co-founder who successfully negotiated a deal with the US last year in Doha, arrived in Kabul, where the militia’s senior commanders were already holding talks with Jihadi leaders as well as politicians.

Baradar had arrived in Afghanistan last Tuesday from Qatar, choosing to touch down in the country’s second biggest city Kandahar. Within hours of his return, the group had announced their rule would be “different” this time. So far, they have given few details about who would form their government.

Read: Taliban to unveil new Afghan govt framework within weeks, official says

Hours after Baradar’s arrival in Kabul, pro-Taliban social media accounts showed Khalil Haqqani—one of America’s most-wanted terrorists with a $5 million bounty on his head – announcing that Ahmad Massoud—the son of Afghanistan’s most famed anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud—had “declared allegiance” to the movement.

Massoud had earlier this week appealed to the United States to supply arms to his resistance movement in the Panjshir Valley, northeast of Kabul, saying he wanted to follow in his father Ahmad Shah Massoud’s footsteps.

Massoud’s call further stoked the fears expressed earlier by the US about the breakout of a civil war in the country. Massoud has not issued any statement to Haqqani’s announcement but his aides have said that the negotiations with the Taliban were still ongoing.

As the Taliban and other Afghan political leaders continue their discussions on the formation of a new government, a senior Taliban official told Reuters that the framework for the creation of the new government was expected to be announced in the next few days.

“The Taliban will announce the framework of the new government in the next few days,” said a senior Taliban member according to Afghanistan’s Tolo news agency. “Taliban’s legal, religious and foreign policy experts are working to prepare the framework,” he added.

This comes as former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation met with Abdul Rahman Mansour, the acting governor of Kabul in which they discussed security of Kabul city and protection of people’s lives and properties.

Abdullah, a senior official in the ousted government, confirmed in a tweet that he and Karzai met on Saturday with Taliban’s acting governor for Kabul, who “assured us that he would do everything possible for the security of the people” of the city.

Anas Haqqani, another key leader in the network, who was in the capital, also had a meeting with Karzai and Abdullah. Afghan officials familiar with talks under way in the capital say the Taliban have said they will not make announcements on their government until the August 31 deadline for the US troop withdrawal.

Khalil Haqqani has also met with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar—a former bitter rival during the brutal civil war of the early 1990s. And according to Afghanistan’s Khaama news agency, Hashamt Ghani Ahmadzai, brother of President Ashraf Ghani, backed the Taliban by swearing allegiance. In a video clip, Hashamt Ghani was shown as pledging allegiance to key Taliban leader Khalilur Rahman, the agency said.

The flurry of meetings comes amid reports that anti-Taliban forces claim they’ve taken three districts close to Panjshir. Defence Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi, who has vowed to resist the Taliban, said in a tweet that the districts of Deh Saleh, Bano and Pul-Hesar in the Baghlan province to the north of Panjshir had been taken. It was not immediately clear what forces were involved.

Read more: Taliban vow to be accountable, probe reports of reprisals in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, the United States on Saturday urged its citizens in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to the Kabul airport for now, citing “potential security threats” near its gates. The warning, posted on the website of the US Embassy in Afghanistan and tweeted by the State Department in Washington, provided no detail on the nature of the threat.

But conditions outside Hamid Karzai International Airport have been chaotic amid the crush of people hoping to flee the Taliban takeover of the country. A senior US official said that potential Islamic State (IS) threats against Americans were forcing the US military to develop new ways to get evacuees to the airport in Kabul.

A senior Taliban official told AFP that security risks could not be ruled out at Kabul airport where thousands gather each day trying to leave. The Taliban are “aiming to improve the situation and provide a smooth exit” at the airport over the weekend, he said.



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