The Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Omar has issued a bellicose Eid statement swiftly denounced by the commander of Nato troops in Afghanistan on Friday as a message of hate from a deranged man.
In his message to the Afghan people ahead of Eidul Fitr, Mullah Omar said insurgents should “employ tactics that do not cause harm to life and property of the common countrymen”.
“The instructions given to you for the protection of civilian losses are, on you, a religious obligation to observe,” the one-eyed reclusive leader said in a seven-page statement released late on Thursday and translated into five languages.
“Any violation readily incurs loss in this world and in the world to come. Therefore, I urge you emphatically to be careful about the civilian losses and take this on yourselves as an explicit responsibility,” he said.
The rare statement by Mullah Omar also claims victories on the battlefield against Nato and defends as tactical the Taliban’s initial contacts, now suspended, with the United States.
General John Allen pilloried the statement as “an unmistakable message of death, hate and hopelessness for the Afghan people”.
Calling Omar a ‘deranged man’ using ‘insane language’, Gen Allen scoffed at his call on Taliban militants to avoid killing civilians, pointing to the deaths of dozens of civilians in a series of suicide and bomb attacks this week.
“Either Omar is lying, or his henchmen are not listening to him, but it is clear that innocent Afghan civilians are paying the price for his corrupt leadership,” Gen Allen said in a statement.
In an apparent move to allay fears among some Taliban factions, Mullah Omar said in his statement that initial talks with the United States “had not meant submission or abandoning our goals”. Instead they had been aimed at initiating an exchange of prisoners, opening a political office and to ‘reach our goals’, he said, noting that the Taliban had suspended the talks earlier this year.
He called the ‘so-called transition’, under which Nato is handing increasing responsibility for the war to Afghan security forces ahead of the exit of some 130,000 foreign troops by the end of 2014, a sign of defeat. And Mullah Omar, said by the Afghan government to be based in neighbouring Pakistan, warned that the war would continue after their departure.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.