DOHA: The Taliban said they are not seeking a “monopoly on power” in a future administration in Afghanistan but are looking for ways to coexist with Afghan institutions.
The statement came amid intensified US-led efforts to resolve the long-running Afghanistan war. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad reported this week that there had been “agreements in principle” toward a framework for peace with the Taliban, who now control almost half of the country and carry out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting Afghan security forces and government officials.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman based in the Gulf Arab country of Qatar where the Taliban have a political office, said that once US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban want to live with other Afghans, “tolerate one another and start life like brothers.” Shaheen’s statement was provided in an exclusive audio message to the media.
“After the end of the occupation, Afghans should forget their past and tolerate one another and start life like brothers. After the withdrawal, we are not seeking a monopoly on power,” Shaheen said.
“We believe in an inclusive Afghan world, where all Afghans can see themselves in it,” he added.
He also said the Taliban envision a reformed police and local police forces, without offering specifics. Afghanistan’s local police forces have been widely criticised as deeply corrupt and intimidating of the local population.
Shaheen said another round of talks with Khalilzad, the US envoy, is planned for February 25 in Doha.
Shaheen also said the US and the Taliban will establish joint technical teams to work out details of a future US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as well as ways of preventing Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.
“The withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan is a shared responsibility and a pride for all Afghans,” Shaheen said.