Mid-level Taliban insurgency commanders do not believe their leaders have begun tentative peace talks with the Afghan government, with many vowing on Friday not to give up the fight after nearly 10 years of war.
NATO and Afghan officials have confirmed preliminary contacts between President Hamid Karzai’s government and the Taliban, although doubt surrounds when those contacts were made, who they were made with and what, if any, progress was made.
Karzai is pushing a negotiated settlement to the conflict and has launched a High Peace Council which has said it is prepared to offer concessions to bring insurgents to the table, although Kabul and Washington are adamant they must renounce violence.
However, insurgency commanders from across Afghanistan indicated they were not involved in the initial contacts. “No one has come so far and sat with the government and there is no hope that the Taliban will come and negotiate with the government,” said Abdullah Nasrat, the Taliban commander for Girishk district in southern Helmand province, one of the Taliban’s traditional strongholds.
Girishk is in the strategically important Helmand River valley, along which mainly US and British forces launched a series of offensives last year. Reuters