Khalizad Arrives in Kabul, Meets With Afghan Leaders; Taliban Head Seeks ‘Pure Islamic Govt,’ But Not ‘Monopoly’

The fighting since the deal was signed has been intense, widespread, and cost many lives, leading many to questions the Taliban’s will for peace. 

The Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada in his Eid-al-Adha message once again referred to the aim of establishing an “Islamic government.”

“As we are on the threshold of establishing an Islamic government due to the Help of Allah and your selfless sacrifices…” begins the message–in both Pashto and English–published online on Tuesday. The message then refers to a “pure Islamic government’:

“Our Jihad was and continues to be for ending the occupation and establishing a pure Islamic government…Our clear message remains that we are not looking for monopoly over power because all the diverse Afghan tribes and ethnicities are in need of one another – rather the consummation, sovereignty and power of an Islamic system is tied with the unity and oneness of Afghans. Islam orders us all towards Islamic brotherhood, honesty and bestowing responsibility upon those qualified. Every individual in society is entitled to exercise all the rights and privileges of life and have their political and social status determined on the basis of merit and piety,” according to the message.

Speculation has increased about the Taliban’s intentions for the future government since the signing of the US-Taliban peace agreement in late February. Akhundzada’s comment “we are not looking for a monopoly over power” is significant especially as the intra-Afghan talks appear imminent with the prisoner release almost completed. The Taliban has said that the talks could begin after Eid, provided that all of the prisoners are released. However, the Afghan government, the US and the international community has called on the Taliban to reduce violence in order to make a path for peace talks.

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani, also on Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul, said that over 3,073 Afghan civilians were killed and wounded after the US-Taliban peace agreement which was signed in Doha on February 29.

“Our civilian losses have been 3073, with 775 martyred, 1,609 wounded and 689 kidnapped,” said Ghani.

Akhundzada’s message emphasized the need for all obstructions to be removed from the way of the intra-Afghan talks, but the Taliban leader’s reluctance to talk about the reduction in violence, ceasefire, the protection of the last two decades’ gains, press freedom, freedom of speech, and the rights of women to work and learn has sparked strong responses from various strata of Afghan society.

Also, the fighting since the deal was signed has been intense, widespread, and cost many lives, leading many to questions the Taliban’s will for peace.

President Ashraf Ghani has said that over 10,708 members of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) have been killed and wounded since the US-Taliban peace deal on February 29.

“Between February 29, 2020, and July 21, 2020, ANDSF losses have been 10,708, with 3560 martyred, 6781 wounded and the rest kidnapped, imprisoned or unaccounted for,” added Ghani.

Meanwhile, General Yasin Zia, the Afghan Chief of Army Staff in his Eid message to the Afghan forces ordered them to defend the country against any hostility.

“Defend your country with thoughtfulness and authenticity and repress the enemies of this country,” said Yasin Zia, the Afghan Chief of Army Staff.

“The main solution to this conflict is that Ashraf Ghani shows mercy on his countrymen and thinks about his country and stops continuing the war to prolong his power,” said Hakif Muhajer, a Taliban military commander in Logar.

“From the gender perspective, this text (Taliban leader’s message) is vague, because we need to know what roadmap the Taliban have in their minds about the rights of women and girls for learning,” said Shahla Farid, a women’s rights activist.

In the message, the Taliban leader also said that after the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban will work for the reconstruction of Afghanistan under an Islamic government.

Khalizad Arrives in Kabul, Meets With Afghan Leaders; Taliban Head Seeks ‘Pure Islamic Govt,’ But Not ‘Monopoly’