KABUL, (Reuters) – The Taliban have said they will not enter into any “deal” with the Afghan government or the West to bring peace to Afghanistan, and their fighters will continue to die to achieve a victory they say is around the corner.
At a conference in London last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai invited the Taliban to a peace council and set out plans to lure fighters down from the hills in return for cash and jobs.
But in a statement posted on the Islamists’ website (alemarah.info/english) on Thursday, the Taliban vowed to “collude” with no one.
The statement made no specific reference to Karzai’s proposed talks. The Taliban had initially told Reuters they would decide “soon” on whether to take part in talks.
The Islamists have repeatedly rejected previous offers of talks before all foreign troops are withdrawn. “During the past eight years, the Islamic Emirate has not shown any willingness to reach collusion with any party as regards the Jihad, the country and the people, national and Islamic interest,” the Taliban said. “Now, it is not ready to have any illegitimate, valueless deal about the victory, which is near at hand.”
The statement was entitled “The impracticable decision of the London conference” and addressed to the meeting’s “conveners and donors”.
The luring away of militant foot-soldiers is referred to by the West as reintegration while efforts to make peace with Taliban leaders is being called reconciliation.
Afghanistan’s allies are backing the efforts to start talks with the Taliban and donors have promised hundreds of millions of dollars for a fund to pay fighters to come in from the cold.
Western countries, eyeing an exit from an eight-year-old war they no longer believe has a purely military solution, are more amenable than ever to a role for rehabilitated Taliban.
On Wednesday, British armed forces minister Bill Rammell said about 20 percent of the Taliban were “hardcore, ideological jihadists”, while 80 percent had joined largely to make a living, suggesting these fighters could be won over. But at a time when fighters are tightening their hold over much of the country and inflicting record losses on foreign troops, analysts doubt guerrillas would agree to lay down their arms. Similar past programmes have lured away only a trickle of fighters.
The Taliban, meanwhile, vowed to continue their fight. “The invading Americans and all their invading allies should understand the objective of the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate is more lofty and exalted than that the rulers of the White House could imagine,” the statement said. “These sacrificing mujahideen believe that the obtainment of this lofty goal is only possible through laying down their lives.”