‘Only intra-Afghan talks can bring peace,’ says Afghan NSA Hamdullah Mohib
Only an intra-Afghan dialogue can ensure peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and haphazard contacts with Taliban factions will complicate the situation, the war-torn country’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said on Saturday.
Afghanistan perceives India as a strategic partner as both sides have common views on terrorism and democracy, and Kabul will continue to reach out to New Delhi for assistance, Mohib said a day after holding a strategic dialogue with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.
Asked about the absence of Afghan government representatives at recent talks with the Taliban in Moscow and Abu Dhabi, he said: “There can be no peace without the Afghans, this is a process we have been leading …there is a lot of misinformation…because of the fact that many of the talks happened behind closed doors.”
India and Afghanistan had “non-official” representation at the “Moscow format” talks hosted by Russia in November, while the Taliban refused to meet an Afghan delegation during talks with US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad in Abu Dhabi last month.
All peace talks have to be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, Mohib said. “The talks that must happen have to be intra-Afghan. That is the only way for any peace and reconciliation to actually happen...,” he added. Mohib, 35, described India as a “rising power” with which Afghanistan would like to continue its partnership. “India is a strategic partner and...we see eye to eye on terrorism and the role of democracy,” he said.
“Where we had any needs and we felt India could play a role, we have asked India in the past and they came forward and contributed. When there is a need in future, we will ask again,” he added. Mohib said he was “not confident at all” that the Taliban’s Qatar office, whose representatives have been engaged in talks with the US since last year, represents all factions of the group. “I think there is a lot of factionalism inside the Taliban, they’re not a cohesive group,” he said, adding the militants had not even appointed a “single negotiating team”.
He described reports of the US planning to withdraw 7,000 troops from Afghanistan as “misinformation” but acknowledged that Kabul was preparing for all scenarios. Afghanistan is accelerating steps to make its armed forces more self-reliant, especially measures to beef up its air force by acquiring 315 aircraft by 2023, he said. Afghan troops are largely dependent on the US for air support, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, air lift and medical evacuation, and the strengthening of the Afghan air force would diminish the need for such support, he said.
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