Insurgents claim the government of Ashraf Ghani does not match their vision of an ‘Islamic government’
The Taliban on Friday warned Washington against reneging on its May 1 deadline for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, stressing that any violation will provoke a “reaction.”
Addressing a press conference in Moscow a day after the insurgents met senior Afghan government negotiators and international observers in a bid to revive the stalled peace process, spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the time had come for the U.S. to go. “After that [May 1], it will be a kind of violation of the agreement [if U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan]. That violation would not be from our side … Their violation will have a reaction,” he warned.
Since inking a peace agreement with the U.S. in February 2020, the Taliban have halted all attacks on U.S. or NATO forces, though unclaimed bombings and targeted killings have actually increased in the past few months. Shaheen did not clarify if his warning suggested attacks on troops would resume if the withdrawal was delayed beyond May 1.
“We hope that this will not happen, that they withdraw and we focus on the settlement, peaceful settlement of the Afghan issue, in order to bring about a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire at the end of reaching a political roadmap [for] Afghanistan,” he said.
To a question, the spokesman said that the Taliban would not deviate from their demand for an Islamic government. He said that the incumbent government of President Ashraf Ghani did not match their vision of an “Islamic government,” but stopped short of saying what such a setup would look like. Critics fear that the insurgents might want a return to their repressive rules that denied girls’ education, barred women from working, and imposed harsh punishments for even minor offenses.
The Taliban statement comes as President Joe Biden’s administration says it is reviewing an agreement signed between the insurgents and the Trump administration, with the incumbent president claiming that while the May 1 deadline could be achieved, it could prove challenging to implement effectively.