Peace inaccessible as long as Ghani in power, Taliban says

TEHRAN, Jul. 23 (MNA) – A spokesperson for the Taliban group says there will be no peace in Afghanistan as long as a new negotiated government is established and Ashraf Ghani is removed.

“I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments who (sought) to monopolize power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments,” Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press.

Shaheen said the Taliban will lay down their weapons when a negotiated government acceptable to all sides in the conflict is installed in Kabul and Ghani’s government is gone.

Shaheen called the talks a good beginning. But he said the government’s repeated demands for a ceasefire while Ghani stayed in power were tantamount to demanding a Taliban surrender. “They don’t want reconciliation, but they want surrendering,” he said.

Before any ceasefire, there must be an agreement on a new government “acceptable to us and to other Afghans,” he said. Then “there will be no war.”

Shaheen said under this new government, women will be allowed to work, go to school, and participate in politics, but will have to wear the hijab, or headscarf. He said women won’t be required to have a male relative with them to leave their home, and that Taliban commanders in newly occupied districts have orders that universities, schools and markets operate as before, including with the participation of women and girls.

Shaheen said there are no plans to make a military push on Kabul and that the Taliban have so far “restrained” themselves from taking provincial capitals. But he warned they could, given the weapons and equipment they have acquired in newly captured districts. He contended that the majority of the Taliban’s battlefield successes came through negotiations, not fighting.

“Those districts which have fallen to us and the military forces who have joined us ... were through mediation of the people, through talks,” he said. “They (did not fall) through fighting ... it would have been very hard for us to take 194 districts in just eight weeks.”

“You know, no one no one wants a civil war, including me,” said Shaheen.

MAH/PR

News Code 176449

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