Former chief of the National Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh said on Tuesday that the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad does not have the authority to talk with Taliban on behalf of the Afghan people.
Saleh made the remarks at a gathering in Kapisa province where he voiced disapproval over talks between Khalilzad and Taliban last week in Qatar.
Saleh said peace talks with Taliban should be done by the Afghan government and Afghan people and they should own the process because the people will not accept any ‘secret deal’.
Saleh said even President Ashraf Ghani is not happy about talks having been held between Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Qatar.
“We will accept negotiations if there was a representative from the nation (Afghanistan) in the negotiation process. We should not be deceived once again and we should not commit that historical mistake. We win in war, but lose in negotiation,” Saleh said.
Saleh also touched on the October 20 elections and said most biometric devices will not work and the process will be riddled with fraud. However, he encouraged people to participate in the elections in a show of support for democracy.
“There are millions of ghost and fake voters in this country, but with all these technical challenges and with all the distrust in the process we still welcome elections,” Saleh added.
Residents of Kapisa meanwhile said the only way to get the country out of the current situation is for the nation to stay united.
“If we vote for the right candidate and have a transparent election, we may not confront miseries,” Fazl Rahman, a religious scholar said.
Saleh’s remarks on Khalilzad’s efforts for peace comes after the US envoy visited Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to pave the way for talks between Afghanistan government and the Taliban.
In his first visit to Kabul, Khalilzad asked government and Taliban to form negotiating teams.
He then went to Islamabad and talked with Pakistani officials. Last Wednesday, he met with Taliban representatives in Qatar where they talked about Afghanistan’s war and peace.
After the meeting, Taliban officials said their representatives and Khalilzad agreed to hold talks on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
In reaction to Taliban’s claims, the High Peace Council (HPC) on Tuesday said so far, no talks have been held on the withdrawal of foreign troops.
HPC on Monday also said Taliban are trying to use the demand for the withdrawal of foreign troops as a tool for their propaganda.
HPC deputy head Attaurrahman Salim told TOLOnews that Washington must take into consideration Afghanistan's continued stability and security in peace talks with the Taliban.
Salim said the withdrawal of foreign troops can be discussed once the war has ended in the country and security has been restored.
“The withdrawal of forces is an issue that can be discussed after the establishment of security and the end of the war and it should be discussed nationally,” said Salim.
The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan has been a key demand by the Taliban for many years; but the High Peace Council said Taliban uses the issue as a “topic for propaganda” while there are much more important issues that should be addressed first.
“Because they have been backed a lot under this issue (calling for forces withdrawal) they want to use it as a propaganda subject, while there are other issues that should come first,” Salim added.