Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Options for a “Political Settlement”

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Options for a “Political Settlement”

The government of Afghanistan has for long been avoiding using the term "Taliban" to refer to the perpetrators of attacks on Afghan civilians and military personnel. The routine has always been to call the perpetrators "the enemies of the people of Afghanistan" or "the armed opponents". What has been carefully ensured is that never the perpetrators are called the "Taliban" even after Taliban spokespersons take responsibility for the attacks or when there is overwhelming evidence that the Taliban were behind the act.

This is despite the fact that the Taliban as a group and as an ethno-religious guerrilla entity have presented a clear-cut and definite definition of themselves through their numerous messages. They have made it clear to one and all who they are and what they want. However, the government of President Karzai has so far failed to reach a consensus on a definition of Taliban as its primary enemy and an existential threat. It is high time for the government of President Karzai and his companions to call a spade a spade and put an end to this dangerous denial of realities.   

Many government officials even go to the extent of denying the existence of such a group and organization called Taliban. They are of the opinion that Taliban do not exist as a group or an organization but that many self-styled criminal groups or armed militant outfits opportunistically call themselves the Taliban. One high-ranking government official occupying the post of minister in the cabinet of President Karzai has for long been peddling this position.

Recently, he has once again stated his position that Taliban are not one unified organization with a definite structure and chain of command but a multitude of opportunistic criminal and militant groups that call themselves the Taliban. It is has been known for long that many key persons inside the government of President Karzai have long been pushing such a view of Taliban.

What these high-ranking government officials say and also the refusal of the government of Afghanistan to utter the word Taliban when it is evident that they have carried out an attack, both smack of a denial mood inside the government to recognize the existence of its enemy. It has been known for long that the government of Afghanistan under the stewardship of President Karzai is kind of unwilling to fight the Taliban as its primary enemy and an existential threat. What is worse now is that its key officials go to the extent of denying outright the existence of this enemy!

The Taliban as an entity and its well-organized hierarchy and command and control structure and its leaders, sub-leaders and commanders, who are of course aware that they exist unlike the government, now have a reason to celebrate! In a war, nothing can be better for one side to see its opponent on the other side denying the existence of its enemy.

When Zabih ullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Taliban, hurriedly informs the media and claims responsibility after every high-profile attack by his comrades, what he encounters is a government that is even refusing to acknowledge the fact that he tries to proudly put across for all to know. Of course, what this influential minister in President Karzai government says and his attempts at concealing and denying the existence of Taliban are disingenuous, blatantly dishonest and constitute an insult to the intelligence of the people of Afghanistan.  

Whether the Taliban exist as a well-organized group or not is not a question. We are all aware that the group and the entity that we refer to as "Taliban" does exist and its members do operate within the framework of their group's organizational structure. We have all heard about the Quetta Shura and the pre-eminent position of control that it has over the Taliban's de-centralized rank and file. Many would like to deny the existence of the Quetta Shura labeling it as a fabrication and a myth.

But the reality is that such a high council comprised of Taliban leaders does exist in that city at least until recently when it relocated to another place inside Pakistan after the Bin laden operation. The armies of Taliban militants who keep fighting the Afghan and foreign forces throughout the country and the vast sums of money that go into erecting this vast organization called the Taliban is real and amply documented.

This vast and organized network called the Taliban, stretching from the tribal areas of Pakistan all the way to Amu Darya River and made up of leaders, commanders, soldiers and the rank and file and whose annual budget reaches hundreds of millions of dollars, is real and does indeed exist. It is true that Taliban, as an entity, is highly de-centralized with individual divisions and wings operating with significant autonomy and independence from one another each covering a geographic area inside Afghanistan.

But these diverse wings and divisions have a lot more to share with one another than our minister is prepared to acknowledge. They invariably share the same vision of overthrowing the government and re-establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as they did in mid-1990s. Their primary source of money, logistics and guidance comes from the same set of leaders who sit at the top of Taliban's organizational pyramid. Saying publicly that such a group does not exist is a dishonest treachery on the part of our so-called statesmen.

The Taliban, as an ethno-religious entity and when in power in 1990s and since 2001, have been responsible for untold numbers of miseries and atrocities that they have inflicted upon innocent people. The genocide and ethnic cleansing they perpetrated against the minority ethnic groups, the mass killings of thousands of innocent people who had nothing to do with the ongoing wars and bloodshed, the beheading and execution of political opponents that they committed on a massive scale, their scorched earth policy towards other ethnic communities, and the kind of historic betrayal they committed against a religion they supposedly served are all firmly in the minds and memories of people of Afghanistan.

Attempting to shrewdly and dishonestly sweep the draconian nature and existence of Taliban under the carpet on the part of some of our statesmen constitutes a betrayal to the spilled bloods of these tens of thousands of innocent people.

The author is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlook afghanistan@gmail.com

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