Afghan Taliban’s new chief Haibatullah Akhundzada rejects peace talks

  • Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: May 26, 2016 22:02 IST
This undated handout photograph released by the Afghan Taliban on May 25, 2016 shows Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada at an undisclosed location. (AFP)

Under its new leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Afghan Taliban has rejected peace talks as a viable solution to bring an end to the insurgency, and vowed to continue fighting.

In an audio message released in Pushto and circulated by Taliban commanders, Haibatullah is heard saying the Taliban “will never bow their heads and will not agree to peace talks,” reported Daily Dawn, a local English daily.

In the audio speech, the newly appointed Taliban chief said vowed to continue the policy of his predecessors, Mullah Omar and Mullah Mansour.

“They [Taliban’s enemies] have now started singing on media that now that Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour has left this world, the Taliban would agree to reconciliation. I swear on Allah that those who call themselves Afghans, call themselves Muslims, call themselves Mujahid or call themselves (Afghan) refugees, they would ... continue the fight.”

Dawn said that a communique issued by the Taliban reassured all “mujahideen and the people at large not to worry.” The communique quoted the leadership council as saying that they would continue to carry the torch of Islam and jihad till the day of judgement under the new leader.

Local commentators have indicated that the Taliban would resume its offensive in Afghanistan within weeks. “What we are seeing is that the Taliban will not make up for lost time and put pressure on the Afghan government,” commented analyst Rustam Shah Mohmand. Mohmand said that Pakistan has been put in an embarrassing situation with the drone attack on its soil.

He also predicted that relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan will deteriorate significantly in the coming months.

In a related development, the home minister of the troubled Balochistan province, where a drone strike killed Mullah Mansour earlier this week, announced at a press briefing on Thursday the arrest of six Afghan spies from the province’s Pishin area. Bugti claimed the arrested spies were involved in subversive activities in the province, including targeted killings. The provincial minister lashed out at Afghan intelligence agency – National Directorate of Security – for deceiving Pakistan.

Replying to a question, the home minister stated that it is the responsibility of the Foreign Office now to raise the issue with Afghan government. Bugti stated that Pakistan wants to foster brotherly relations with Afghanistan, but if the NDS continues with its subversive activities, then it would be very hard to do so. The home minister also cautioned the Afghan president to control his intelligence service, stating that relations between the two countries can deteriorate if such activities continue.

Bugti also said the time has come for the Afghan refugees to leave and return to their homeland. “We have had enough. Either the Afghan refugees can return voluntarily with respect and dignity, or the people of Balochistan can humiliate them and throw them out of the country,” thundered Bugti.

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