Afghan security agencies, including the National Security Council (NSC), on Friday said Taliban violence has “increased” after they signed the peace deal with the United States last year in February and the group has maintained ties with al-Qaeda.
According to the ministries of Defense and Interior Affairs, the Taliban has increased their attacks in the shape of planning car bomb attacks on military installations, roadside bombs, magnetic IED explosions, targeted killings of the security forces and government employees, including attacks on the journalists and civil society activists in various parts of the country. The security agencies did not provide figures on the number of Taliban attacks during this period.
The NSC spokesman Rahmatullah Andar said that 11 al-Qaeda members were arrested recently by Afghan forces and that “they were operating in the ranks of the Taliban.”
“Three of those arrested are key members of the network,” Andar said.
Afghan lawmakers said that targeted killings and violence have increased in the country after the Doha agreement.
“The Taliban has not met their commitments to the United States. Even if there is no pressure on them in the future, the Taliban will not abide by any commitment and they will instead stress on their own demands,” said Sayed Zahir Masroor, an MP.
A former Taliban member said that violence will cease when there is an agreement on an Islamic government.
“The peace negotiations are underway. The Taliban has said they will cease violence, or agree on a ceasefire, but all these are possible when there is an Islamic system,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
The Pentagon on Thursday said 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.”
The negotiations in Doha started last year in September. The negotiators of the Afghan Republic and the Taliban agreed on rules and procedures for the talks after three months of discussions. The teams went back to Doha earlier this month after a three-week break during which they consulted their leaders on the issues that will be added to the agenda of the negotiations.
However, the two sides have not made any progress over the last two weeks and have not held any meeting on the agenda.
The Taliban has rejected their relations with al-Qaeda. Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the deputy head of the Taliban’s negotiating team, at a press conference in Moscow on Friday said that there is no al-Qaeda member in Afghanistan.
Stanekzai said that the Afghan government is the “only hurdle” for the peace process, blaming President Ghani for prolonging the process and not willing to hand power to another government for the sake of peace.
Stanekzai 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.”
But officials in Kabul hit back at the Taliban’s allegations and said the group was not prepared for a political settlement of the conflict in the country.
Earlier this week, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said the Taliban is not interested in peace and that the group is busy in violence despite the release of their 5,000 by the Afghan government.