Khan: Taliban Will Not Talk to Govt ‘As Long As Ghani Is There’

Pakistan Prime Minister said that he tried to persuade Taliban leaders when they were visiting Pakistan to reach a settlement. 

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the Taliban leaders have told him that until President Ghani is no longer in power, the group will not engage in talks with the Afghan government, Reuters reported on Wednesday. 

“The condition is that as long as Ashraf Ghani is there, we (the Taliban) are not going to talk to the Afghan government,” Khan said, quoting the Taliban leaders, according to the report.

Representatives of a number of countries, including the US, are currently in the Qatari capital of Doha talking to both sides in a last-ditch push for a ceasefire.

Khan said he tried to persuade Taliban leaders when they were visiting Pakistan to reach a settlement.

A political settlement in Afghanistan was looking difficult under current conditions, Khan added.

President Imran Khan also said that Washington has been pressing Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban to broker a peace deal as negotiations between the insurgents and Afghan government have stalled, and violence in Afghanistan has escalated sharply, according to Reuters.

“Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one,” he said.

The United States will pull out its military by Aug. 31, 20 years after toppling the Taliban government in 2001. But, as the United States leaves, the Taliban today controls more territory than at any point since then.

Kabul and several Western governments say Pakistan’s support for the insurgent group allowed it to weather the war, said Reuters.

The charge of supporting the Taliban despite being a US ally has long been a sore point between Washington and Islamabad.

But Pakistan denies supporting the Taliban.

“I think that the Americans have decided that India is their strategic partner now, and I think that’s why there’s a different way of treating Pakistan now,” Khan said.

Pakistan and India are archrivals and have fought three wars. The two share frosty ties and currently have minimal diplomatic relations.

The Republic’s negotiating team in Doha led by Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, called on the international community, especially Troika meeting member states, to adopt serious measures to prevent Taliban attacks on cities, which “have led to war crimes” and “widespread human rights abuses,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Speaking at the “Extended Troika Meeting” with China, US, Russia and Pakistan, Abdullah stated that “the Taliban’s bloody attacks in collusion with regional and international terrorists” will lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe” and will incite more terrorism in the region that will threaten the world.

Abdullah stressed the need to start meaningful negotiations to establish an immediate ceasefire and to reach a political agreement, said the foreign ministry.

On Thursday, the Afghan government handed a proposal to Taliban negotiators in Qatar offering a power-sharing deal in return for an end to fighting, according to a member of the government’s team in Doha who asked not to be named, AFP reported.

But neither the Afghan government nor Taliban have yet commented on the proposal.

Khan: Taliban Will Not Talk to Govt ‘As Long As Ghani Is There’