Taliban Hints At Eventual Power Sharing In Afghanistan

June 19, 2013

The Taliban have expressed their readiness to share power in Afghanistan a day after the hard-line Islamic group opened a political office in Qatar.

Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Qatar office, told RFE/RL that the Taliban want to have an inclusive Afghan government.

"In his speeches and statements, our leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has repeatedly said that we want a government that includes all Afghans," Naeem said. "It should be a government, in which all our people and their representatives can participate and be a part of. It should give Afghans the hope that it a government for all of them and this country belongs to all of them."

Asked by RFE/RL if the Taliban are ready to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's representatives in Qatar, Naeem said that the Taliban is ready "talk to all Afghans who come to the [Qatar] office."

Washington has welcomed the the opening of the Taliban office, and President Barack Obama has defended U.S. efforts to negotiate with the radical movement.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said there were "foreign hands" behind the Taliban's new office.

Obama’s remarks in Berlin on July 19 came after Karzai suspended talks with Washington on a treaty that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, called the Bilateral Security Agreement.

At a press conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama said he sees Afghan peace talks and negotiations for a post-2014 international presence in Afghanistan as part of a "parallel track."

"Even as we go through some, frankly, difficult negotiations around what it would mean for the international community to have an ongoing training and advising presence after 2014, we still believe that you've got to have a parallel track to at least look at the prospect of some sort of political reconciliation," Obama said. "Whether that bears fruit, whether it actually happens, or whether post 2014 there's going to continue to be fighting, as there was before ISAF forces got into Afghanistan, that's a question that only the Afghans can answer."

Karzai hours earlier said the Afghan High Peace Council would not take part in peace talks in Qatar unless the peace process was Afghan-led.

The Peace Council is a body of Afghanistan's internationally backed Peace and Reintegration Program.

The council is appointed by Karzai and includes four former members of the Taliban regime as well as political figures who are Karzai's allies and members of the political opposition in Kabul.

The Taliban had refused to engage with the council officially or even recognize Karzai’s government in the past.

The Taliban insists that there should be no foreign military presence in Afghanistan.

Known as the "Political Office of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," the office uses the Taliban regime’s name for Afghanistan before it was ousted by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The lower house of Afghanistan’s parliament said in a statement on June 19 that it would not recognize any political office outside of Afghanistan that was not part of the Afghan government.

Written and reported by Abubakar Siddique