The UK Chief of the Defense Staff General Sir Nick Carter said in an interview with the BBC that the Taliban have got every reason to return to the talks and that a majority of the people in Afghanistan do not want the group to govern, while reiterating a call for unity among political leaders in the country.
Talking to the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Carter said, “The Taliban have got every reason to come to the table because 60% of Afghanistan are other ethnicities than Pashtuns and they don’t want the Taliban there so there has got to be a negotiated settlement ultimately if the country is going to be governed as a whole country.”
“The key political players in Kabul at the moment have got to show unity because if they show unity, and if the government continues to hold on to the provincial capitals and particularly Kabul as I described then that’s going to bring the Taliban to the table,” he added.
He said that it is too early to say what will happen once the withdrawal of foreign forces are completed. However, he added that there are three scenarios at the moment: “The current government couldn’t fight on as it’s doing at the moment without support from NATO troops… Secondly, there is a risk that the state could fracture and you could end up with different ethnicities breaking the country up as they did in the 1990s… And the third more helpful scenario is that you are going to press for compromise and of course the longer the Afghan government retains the provincial capitals that it is still retaining, the more likely that scenario is to play out.”
He commended the Afghan government’s current strategy to keep provincial centers.
“What I would say is that the Afghan government is pursuing a very sensible strategy of consolidation. At the moment they are not going to fight for every rural area because they don’t need to; what they need to do is to retain provincial capitals… And therefore, control the majority of the population who are now increasingly urbanized.”
He said the challenge faced by the Taliban is: “Can they govern as much of those rural areas as they have now got?”
He said that the Taliban’s credibility could be easily undermined if they are unable to govern these territories.