Taliban spokesman reiterates hope of announcing new government in war-torn state ‘within a few days’
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issue is one that the Government of Pakistan must resolve, not Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday.
“Our principle stance is that we will not allow the use of our soil by anyone to destroy peace in another country,” he told anchor Saleem Safi during an interview with private broadcaster Geo News. Stressing that if the TTP considered the Afghan Taliban their leaders “they would have to listen to them,” he emphasized that the issue was one for Islamabad to resolve.
“It is up to Pakistan and the Pakistani ulema and religious figures, not the Taliban, to decide on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of their war and to formulate a strategy in response,” he said, adding that the future government had a right to voice its own policy on this upon its establishment.
To a question on when the future government of Afghanistan was expected to be announced, Mujahid said that the process was underway but there were some obstacles delaying its completion. “Entering Kabul all of a sudden and taking over governance like this was unanticipated [for the Taliban],” he said, adding that the Taliban were committed to wanting an inclusive government brought about as a result of wide-ranging talks. He stressed that the Taliban wanted an end to conflict and the creation of a system that represented the wishes of the people.
“Discussions are underway on all aspects of government,” he said, adding that the Taliban hoped to make an announcement “within a few days.”
On the issue of Panjshir Valley, where the National Resistance Front comprising former government officials and other anti-Taliban forces have gathered, the spokesman said that the Taliban were confident of resolving the standoff through dialogue. “We are utilizing all available resources to make this possible. We have consulted ulema and former jihadi leaders, and a regular exchange of messages is taking place,” he said.
Hoping that the standoff would not provoke a conflict, he said the Taliban wanted to bring Panjshir under their control “without the use of force,” as they had Kabul. “This way the honor of the people there will remain intact and we will accord them respect,” he said. “Even if a war does take place,” he warned, “it will be swift, because our fighters have Panjshir surrounded.”
On the Taliban’s talks with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and former chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah, as well as former vice presidents Yunus Qanuni and Abdul Rashid Dostum, Mujahid claimed their advice was being heeded. He said the Taliban wanted the government to comprise people popular with the public and not people who had been at the center of conflict in the past. “We are consulting all leaders present in Kabul. We are in touch with them, and their recommendations are important to us,” he said.