Afghan President Hamid Karzai alleged on Wednesday that reconcilable Afghan Taliban members are either ‘imprisoned or killed’ in Pakistan.
“The Taliban who want peace are killed in Pakistan. The Taliban who want peace, are imprisoned in Pakistan,” Karzai said during an independent Jirga at his palace, which was aired by state television.
Ironically, these remarks come just days after Karzai accused the United States and the Taliban of colluding and holding secret talks in Qatar. Furthermore, Karzai issued these statements at a time when Pakistan released nearly 26 Afghan Taliban detainees, while additionally promising to set all Afghan Taliban detainees free.
Curiously, Kabul initially welcomed the Taliban release in November as the first ‘practical step’ by Pakistan to push the peace process forward. However, soon after, Afghan officials showed frustration at what they described as an ‘incomplete’ release, complaining that they were not given any information about the freed men.
Adding fuel to the fire, relations between the neighbours were further strained recently over the Afghan government’s refusal to hand over Pakistani Taliban leader Maulvi Faqir Mohammad and the boycott of an Ulema Conference in Kabul by Pakistani clerics.
Therefore, Karzai’s claim that Afghan Taliban members expressing desire to join the peace process are being eliminated is simply a fresh allegation atop a growing pile.
“The Taliban who want war are reinforced from every side. Therefore, those who want peace and security belong to this soil and they are our brothers. I call on them again: Dear brother, come to your soil and build your country,” he said, in a shallowly veiled reference to the Taliban living in Pakistan.
He also said the days are gone when armed men could launch an attack in Afghanistan from Pakistan.
“When the foreigners leave Afghanistan in 2014 and someone attacks us from Pakistan, in the name of the Taliban, I, you, our mothers and our sisters will stand against them with more courage and higher morals than today. It is the foreigners’ presence that has made us weak. The Taliban have escaped from all the places where we have worked,” Karzai said.
However, at the same time, Karzai recognised Islamabad’s role in the reconciliation process.
“I know that peace in Afghanistan cannot be established without our agreement with Pakistan,” he said in response to a question from a female participant. “But I want to tell Pakistan that the situation in Afghanistan is improving with every passing day while, unfortunately, it is deteriorating in Pakistan because of the situation they created themselves. We feel sorry for the people of Pakistan by all means. The innocent are dying in cold blood.”
He said the circulation of the Pakistani rupee in Afghan markets – known as ‘kaldar’ in Afghanistan – is simply a reflection of 30 years of very close relations between the two nations.
“This will not be solved unless Afghanistan has made further progress, its banking system is further reformed and security and peace are established,” he said. “The dollar is used in Pakistan, too.”
Moreover, Karzai was quick to add that Afghanistan’s currency is more valuable than the ‘kaldar’ now. One afghani is equal to two Pakistani rupees.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2013.
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