While the Taliban claims its forces are in a defensive posture, the Afghan Ministry of Defense on Sunday said the Taliban staged attacks in 24 provinces of the country over the past 24 hours.
However, a member of the Taliban’s negotiating team said that the Afghan government is reporting a high level of violence to keep the foreign forces in the country.
“In some regions, the war has intensified, but the Islamic emirate has been in defensive position,” said Abdul Salam Hanafi, a member of the Taliban negotiating team.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan in an op-ed published in the Washington Post said that peace is within reach in Afghanistan, but a hasty withdrawal of foreign forces will be unwise.
“We have arrived at a rare moment of hope for Afghanistan and for our region. On Sept. 12, delegations from the Afghan government and the Taliban finally sat down in Doha, Qatar, to begin negotiations toward a political settlement that would bring the war in Afghanistan to an end,” said
“We also learned that peace and political stability in Afghanistan could not be imposed from the outside through the use of force. Only an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process, which recognizes Afghanistan’s political realities and diversity, could produce a lasting peace,” wrote Imran Khan.
“All those who have invested in the Afghan peace process should resist the temptation for setting unrealistic timelines. A hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be unwise. We should also guard against regional spoilers who are not invested in peace and see instability in Afghanistan as advantageous for their own geopolitical ends,” said Khan.
Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Nuristan, Kapisa, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Logar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar, Zabul, Herat, Farah, Badghis, Ghor, Faryab, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh, Helmand, Kunduz, Badakhshan and Baghlan are among the provinces which saw security incidents and attacks by the Taliban.
“In defiance of the peace process and the aspiration of the Afghan people, the Taliban have kept the level of violence very high, they stage terrorist attacks on the Afghan people and the security forces on a daily basis,” said Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.
“They (Afghan govt) want to prolong their grip on power, they want to show that the situation is fragile so that the foreign forces do not leave,” said Mullah Khairullah Khairkhaw, a member of the Taliban peace negotiating team.
“They (Taliban) have increased their offensives, but they suffered massive casualties,” said Mohammad Wais Samimi, the commander of the Baghlan police.
Meanwhile, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai in an interview with the Associated Press said that a potential peace deal in Afghanistan should ensure the rights of women.
“Once we have that, peace in Afghanistan, then we must make sure that education continues even...more strongly, even with more efforts and endeavors that our girls go to school all over the country that we make...that our women have their place in the society in accordance with our culture and values, but they are fully part of the society and move forward with us,” said Karzai.
This comes as negotiators from both sides of the Afghan peace talks in Doha attempt to find a political settlement to end the conflict in the country.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense has said that the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) are ready to respond to any threat against the country, but reiterated the call on the Taliban to stop the war and join the peace process.
General Iqbal Ali Naderi, the deputy of the Afghan Chief of Army Staff, said that the ANDSF is fully prepared to bring a dignified peace for the people of Afghanistan.
“We, the soldiers of the National Army, are the protectors of the Afghan people and will bring a dignified peace for them,” said Naderi at the graduation ceremony of 1000 soldiers from Kabul Military Training Center.
Members of the Afghan National Army also said that they are ready.
“You must take good advantage of your limited resources,” said Mohammad Ishaq Ibrahimi, the deputy commander of Kabul Military Training Center.
“We will protect our people and homeland at any cost, we will defend our soil till the last drop of our blood,” said Omid, an Afghan Army soldier.
“We will go to the battlefield, we will go to the provinces to fight against the enemy who refuse to stop the war,” said Attaullah, an Afghan National Army solider.
The talks in Doha are considered by many to be a historic opportunity to end the 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan.
The Afghans expect that the two sides during the talks will demonstrate their real intentions for finding a diplomatic settlement to the war.