London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Former Afghan Information Minister, Mohammad Siddiq Tashakkuri, has revealed that a number of former Taliban leaders are participating in the initiative raised by Saudi Arabia and Britain to end the violence in Afghanistan.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Tashakkuri revealed that former Taliban officials including, former deputy minister of higher education Maulavi Arslan Rahmani, former Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakal and Mullah Omar’s former UN representative Abdul Hakim Mujahid, amongst others are currently mediating between the Taliban and the government of President Hamid Karzai. He said that while Mullah Omar, the head of the fundamentalist movement, agrees on the conditions set for ending of violence, he rejects the mediation of those who are under the protection of Karzai’s government, such as Mullah Zaeef and Mullah Wakeel Ahmad Muttawakal and others.
Tashakkuri also revealed that hardline members of the Taliban have refused to participate in these negotiations and have made known their preference for holding talks with American officials to set the final guidelines for the departure of foreign forces and the cessation of violence.
President Karzai’s former advisor linked the current initiative to end violence in Afghanistan to the imminent presidential elections in Kabul in nine months. He says that one of the premeditated objectives is to introduce ballot boxes in the areas controlled by Taliban in the South such as Helmand and Kandahar. He firmly believes that only time will unite the Afghans behind one man and one vision, after years of internal fighting. He argues that the successful conclusion of the current negotiations requires at least two years.
The Former Information Minster attributed the difficulties in negotiations to conflicting interests; however, he confirms that they have gone past the “ice-breaking” stage between the Taliban and Karzai’s government.
Tashakkuri also revealed that it was he who personally put forward an initiative to President Karzai that proposed the inviting of trusted scholars from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to issue a fatwa against the violence that destroyed everything in Afghanistan. Tashakkuri said that Taliban would have accepted this fatwa from an Islamic perspective, however, President Karzai asked him to hold on after he was summoned by the American ambassador in Kabul to discuss the matter before the media reports it.
Tashakkuri downplayed the significance of statements by Taliban leaders about a collapse in negotiations, describing them as “media stirs” or internal political calculations; affirming that everyone is convinced from an Islamic jurisprudence perspective that it is high time to stop the violence in the Afghan streets that led to the killing of thousands of helpless civilians. He argues that the current crisis in Afghanistan will not be resolved except from the Islamic perspective, which is adopted by the rival parties. National reconciliation aims at opening up to the moderate elements among the Taliban leaders.