ATaliban spokesperson said unequivocally that peace dialogue cannot be held unless the US abandons its “dual-faced policies” on AfghanistaMullah Muhammad Omar, a Taliban spokesperson said unequivocally that peace dialogue cannot be held unless the US abandons its “dual-faced policies” on Afghanistan.

 A day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially advocated in front of a congressional committee talks with the Quetta Shura and its leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, a Taliban spokesperson said unequivocally that peace dialogue cannot be held unless the US abandons its “dual-faced policies” on Afghanistan.
“On the one hand, it talks about pursuing peace dialogue but on the other it’s seeking to establish permanent military bases in Afghanistan,” Zabiullah Mujahid told The Express Tribune in a telephone interview from somewhere in Afghanistan on Friday.
“The US is seeking Pakistan’s help to negotiate with us, but, at the same time, it’s pressuring Islamabad to fight (the Haqqani network in North Waziristan),” Mujahid said. “Unless the US shows its commitment to peace talks, dialogue is not possible,” he said.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman said, however, that the US does not seek any permanent military bases in Afghanistan or a presence that would be a threat to any of Afghanistan’s neighbours.
On Thursday, Secretary Clinton told the House Committee on Foreign Relations that any Afghan-led peace process would have to include the Quetta Shura and its leader Mullah Omar. During her recent trip to Pakistan, she had also requested Pakistan for help to negotiate with all Taliban factions, including the Haqqani network.
“There is no solution in the region without Pakistan and no stable future without a partnership,” Secretary Clinton told the panel. But the Taliban spokesperson cited contradictions in the US policy about Pakistan. “The irony is that while the United States acknowledges Pakistan’s contributions (in the fight against militancy) it also criticises it (for being hand in glove with the militants).”
Asked if the Taliban can show some flexibility for the greater good of their war-ravaged country, Mujahid said, “Ours is a just struggle. We didn’t invade America. It’s the United States which waged a war in Afghanistan. We demand freedom… We’re not calling for something illegal.”
Earlier this week, the Hizb-e-Islami, led by former warlord Gulbudin Hekmatyar, showed its willingness for peace talks with the United States. “We are willing to have a direct or indirect political dialogue with Washington,” Dr Ghairat Baheer, a Hizb-e-Islami leader, told The Express Tribune in an interview.
Asked about this, Zabiullah Mujahid said he cannot comment on this because Hizb-e-Islami is a separate organisation. The Haqqani network has already turned down an “individual” rapprochement offer from Washington, saying that it should instead engage the Taliban Shura in dialogue because the Haqqanis are a part of the Taliban movement led by Mullah Omar.
Kabul plans to convene a loya jirga (grand assembly) next month before it can approve a strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and the United States.
Asked about this, the Taliban referred to a statement on Wednesday. “The Kabul administration wants to abuse a much respected custom of our country … to prolong the 10-year catastrophe (that has) befallen our country, to deceive the nation and to further expose their own crimes,” said the statement emailed to The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
The statement urged its fighters “to target every security guard, person with intention, participant and every caller of this convention in all corners of the country, so as to not let the invaders perpetually occupy our beloved country.”
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, when asked, referred to Thursday’s testimony by Secretary Clinton and her own Sept. 8 statement where she said that the Strategic Partnership agreement is intended to provide a transparent political framework for long-term cooperation between the US and Afghanistan.  “The United States does not seek any permanent American military bases in Afghanistan,” she said.

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