A key negotiator of the Taliban on Friday said that President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul is the “only hurdle” for the Afghan peace process, blaming President Ghani for prolonging the process and not willing to hand power to another government for the sake of peace.
Addressing reporters in Moscow, Stanekzai, whose press conference was aired by Sputnik, said the Taliban should not be expected to lay down their arms as long as the international troops remain in the country.
“You witnessed that Mr. Ashraf Ghani made different statements… Even in one of his statements, he said that if a future government is established, he should be the leader, the president,” Stanekzai said. “You can see that they are lobbying NATO and the US to prolong their government.”
“Ashraf Ghani’s administration is the only hurled for peace… One of their insincerity is that their (Afghan Republic’s negotiating) team has not been given full authority for talks,” Stanekzai added, reiterating that the Taliban’s negotiating team has the authority to make decagons on the table of negotiations about peace-related matters.
In response to their trip to Moscow as well as to other countries in the region, Stanekzai said their aim is to use the regional countries’ leverage on the Biden administration to push for the implementation of the US-Taliban agreement—signed in Doha on February 29, 2020.
“We hope so because these countries are very close to us, they are our neighbors, they are involved in Afghan matters. That’s why we’re talking to them, we share their concern and we seek their support for the peace process in Afghanistan,” he said.
Regarding an increase in targeted killings in Kabul, Stanekzai said that the government in Kabul is responsible for the security and that the “operations that take place in Kabul, especially the targeted killings.”
Stanekzai said that the Taliban remains committed to the implementation of the US-Taliban agreement and that their team is in contact with the United States team “regularly” in this respect.
“The reviewing of the agreement is their internal matter… We hope that Americans should go according to this peace treaty which was signed in Doha. It’s a good chance for Americans… it is in their favor,” he said.
This comes a day after the Pentagon said Thursday that the Biden administration would not commit to a full drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan by May because the Taliban have not honored the commitments they made in their agreement with the United States signed in Doha last year in February.
“The Taliban have not met their commitments,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in his first press conference on Thursday. “Without them meeting their commitments to renounce terrorism and to stop the violent attacks on the Afghan national security forces, and by dint of that the Afghan people, it's very hard to see a specific way forward for the negotiated settlement.”
Referring to the Pentagon's statement, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that they are "fully committed to all clauses of the Doha agreement and they are implementing their own part.
"The implementation of the Doha agreement is the only solution to the ongoing conflict," he said. "We also urge the United States to fully adhere to the agreement."