Hours after the Taliban announced their so-called spring offensive, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has held five rounds of talks with Taliban members, said the announcement is “reckless” and is “indifference” to the demands of Afghans for peace.
“It is irresponsible to suggest that an increase in violence is warranted because the government announced a security plan,” he said in a tweet. “The Afghan people have clearly voiced their desire for peace.”
Through this announcement, Khalilzad said, Taliban leaders demonstrate their “indifference” to the demands of Afghans across the country.
He said the call for more fighting will not advance peace efforts and that “if executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more causalities”.
“At a time when all Afghans should come together in talks to determine a common future, a call for fighting suggests the Taliban are stuck in the ways of the past. Many Talibs including fighters and some leaders oppose this announcement,” he said.
Khalilzad said that all Afghans should condemn this announcement.
“On behalf of the United States, I condemn this announcement of a spring offensive, and call on Pakistan, Qatar, and other nations that want peace in Afghanistan to do the same,” he added.
“The US and our international partners will stand with Afghan security forces to continue our effort to end the war in Afghanistan, at the same time as we seek to bring parties to the table to negotiate peace,” Khalilzad reiterated.
He said that the killing of Afghans must stop. “All sides must end unnecessary violence, and instead engage in Intra-Afghan dialogue which leads to negotiations on a political settlement and a roadmap to end the war this year. Afghan people want peace, and the US stands with them,” he concluded in a tweet.
The Afghan government and the Resolute Support mission also reacted to the announcement.
A spokesman of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, Dave Butler, said the coalition forces will continue to support the Afghan forces in the fight against the Taliban as the group has chosen violence despite an “amazing” opportunity forces.
“The Taliban made an announcement this morning that they choose violence over peace. We assemble the Resolute Support leadership together and Gen. Miller said the Taliban have made it clear that they have ignored the will of the people and have guaranteed more violence,” Butler said. “We have a tremendous opportunity for peace.
We are closer to peace than we ever have been in the past 40 years.”
“We will support the Afghan security forces as they fight to protect the people, we will support the Afghan security forces as they fight the Taliban,” he said. The Taliban announced their spring offensive on Friday morning which is entitled Operation Al-Fatha - which means “victory” in Arabic.
The group said in a statement that the offensive will be conducted across Afghanistan with the aim of “eradicating occupation” and “cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption”.
“Our Jihadi obligation has not yet ended,” the Taliban said.
The Ministry of Defense in a statement said the offensive has been announced by the Quetta Shura, Taliban’s leadership council, and that by making such and announcement, the group wants to give morale to its fighters after “facing many defeats”.
The ministry said the Afghan Defense and Security Forces will fight the Taliban and that the offensive announcement is "propaganda".
President Ashraf Ghani on April 2 approved the security plan for the current solar year as conflicts are intensifying between security forces and Taliban in different parts of the country.
The National Security Council said in a statement that the plan, named Khalid Security Plan, is aimed at boosting security across the country particularly the security of urban areas and highways.