Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Mutasim Speaks Again

Mutasim Agha Jan, Taliban government’s finance minister and a prominent member of the so-called Quetta Shura has once again spoken to the media - this time to an Afghan local news channel. Speaking from Anakara, Mutasim has said that Taliban are prepared to talk peace with Afghan government, provided that the parties involved in the Afghan conflict make sincere and honest effort towards peace negotiations. If he was in Afghanistan or Pakistan and he had spoken so, he would have put himself at the great risk of being assassinated by the section of Taliban which he pronounces as ‘hardliners.’ But he is lucky enough to be in the capital city of Turkey.

In August 2010, Motasim was targeted by assassins and nearly died after advocating the Taliban should negotiate in Afghanistan’s mainstream political process. “My idea was that I wanted a broad-based government, all political parties together and maybe some hard-liners among the Taliban in Afghanistan and in Pakistan didn’t like to hear this and so they attacked me," he said in May, 2012.

According to Mutasim, the Taliban are mainly divided into two groups: the hard-liners and the moderate ones. The moderate group is already on board for peace talks, he said in his recent interview. Meanwhile, he has called the Taliban representatives in Qatar as hard-liners, who cite stricter terms and conditions when it comes to peace talks. Taliban hardliners are on the frontline of war in Afghanistan and the representatives of Taliban in Qatar are also from the hard-liners’ group. Then where are the moderate Taliban?

Although Mutasim’s views might not be the view of Taliban leadership, it appears as the Afghan government takes his statements as serious. In his last year’s interview to AP, Mustasim expressed the demands of Taliban of negotiation in the following words:  “They want all Afghan prisoners released from U.S.-run detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay and near Bagram Air Field north of the Afghan capital; the names of all Taliban currently on the United Nations sanctions blacklist removed; and recognition of the Taliban as a political party.”

And those demands are what the Afghan government has been trying to meet. President Hamid Karzai has time and again emphasized on the closure of Guantanamo Bay and release of Taliban prisoners. The Afghan government has done what is in its authority: It has released 2,156 prisoners - most of which were held for being somehow linked to terrorist groups – from Bagram detention facility over the past 14 months.  On the request of President Karzai certain names of Taliban have been removed from UN blacklist. Furthermore, the President has invited the insurgent groups like Taliban and Hezb-e Islami to nominate their candidates for 2014 presidential election which is no less than recognizing them as political parties.  

In addition to that the Afghan government has been offering Taliban monetary rewards, asylum in foreign countries and employment opportunities. Also, President Karzai has been calling them as his ‘angry brothers.’ Despite all these kindness for Taliban, unfortunately, they never miss an opportunity to launch terror attacks and kill innocent people.