Security

Photos of Taliban military training draw scepticism over intentions of peace

By Sulaiman

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Taliban fighters practice aiming at an undisclosed location in Badakhshan Province in this photo taken March 30. [File]

KABUL -- Taliban propaganda showing the military training of fighters is raising doubts among Afghans about how serious the militants are about peace.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid posted a number of photos on Monday (March 30) on Twitter showing insurgents marching and manning weapons in undisclosed locations, with one said to be in Badakhshan Province.

The militants were receiving training in order to be able to remove obstacles to instituting Islamic rule, said Mujahid in his post.

The pictures and the statement immediately drew criticism.

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A Taliban fighter mans a heavy machine gun amid training at an undisclosed location in this photo published March 30. [File]

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Taliban fighters stand at attention at an undisclosed location in Badakhshan Province in this photo taken March 30. [File]

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Taliban fighters stand at attention in an undisclosed location in this photo published March 30. [File]

"When the Taliban say that they remove obstacles on their way to Islamic rule, it means that the group intend to use the peace process as a weapon to help them achieve their goal of reinstating the Islamic emirate," said Daud Kalakani, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga from Kabul Province and a political analyst.

"The Taliban just claim Islamic rule [in words] because their acts are completely against Islam," said Kalakani.

"Afghanistan has the best Islamic system as its constitution declares that no law can be made in contradiction to the beliefs and rules of Islam," he said. "The Taliban are just deceiving the public by chanting slogans of Islamic rule."

"I think the Taliban have intentions other than peace in their minds; they just show off when they talk about peace and negotiation," he added.

"They plan to topple this state with newly trained members, but this is impossible. They have to change their minds as the only appropriate option in front of them is talks and peace," Kalakani said.

A lack of integrity

The Taliban propaganda came after the militants on March 28 rejected a negotiating team put together by the Afghan government, claiming that the team was not inclusive.

The militant group instead has only agreed to meet a technical team from the Afghan government to discuss the contentious issue of prisoner exchange.

The statement and the photos have led to suspicions that the Taliban are just making excuses to avoid coming to the peace table.

"The Taliban's post with photos of their fighters on social media platforms displays their dishonesty with regard to ensuring peace and ending the war," said Ahmad Fahim Noori, 35, a graduate student attending a private university in Kabul.

"They are making excuses when they say they don't want to speak with this or that [negotiating] team. The reality is that the Taliban don't have any intention of bringing peace to Afghanistan," he said.

"The Taliban recently signed a peace agreement with the United States," said Noori. "They agreed they would begin intra-Afghan peace talks, and their prisoners would be released. But the group's new position reveals that the peace agreement, reduction in violence and preparations for intra-Afghan peace talks were merely symbolic actions because, in reality, the Taliban don't want peace."

"The Taliban insist on fighting at a time when all Afghans are collectively preparing for peace," he added. "Their new position means that the group has enmity toward peace and the Afghan people."

The reduction in violence earlier this year and the planned intra-Afghan peace talks "were positive developments that took place in the peace process and made Afghans hopeful for peace and stability," said Basir Ahmad Yousufi of Kabul, a university lecturer and political analyst. "But the Taliban's recent stances have turned everything upside down [and] raise questions about their sincerity on peace."

"The Taliban's photos showing their readiness for fighting reveal that the group are not committed to the terms of their peace agreement with the United States and have no intention of ending the war," said Yousufi.

A violent identity

"The Afghan government and the United States have expressed their intentions and sincerity in bringing peace [to Afghanistan]," said Muhammad Ali Ahmadi, a political affairs analyst and former deputy governor of Ghazni Province.

"The military training photos of the Taliban proved to Afghans and the world that the Taliban don't want peace and that they are interested in keeping up the war," he said.

"The Taliban have realised that the war has given them their identity and that they won't have an identity or any prestige without the war; therefore, they have been creating obstacles to peace by making excuses," said Ahmadi.

"I think that a number of the Taliban are tired of war and that they're interested in peace, but some among them seek to continue fighting for their own interests," said Aziz Stanakzai, a military affairs analyst in Kabul.

"Therefore, these individuals resort to war and provocative acts so that parties to the conflict are pushed to war," he said.

"A number of neighbouring and regional countries are not in favour of peace, stability and security in Afghanistan," added Stanakzai. "These countries earn abundant income from the war and drug trafficking, and a part of the Taliban leadership has ties and common interests with the intelligence agencies of these countries."

"With orders from [these agencies], they try to sabotage the peace process that has so far progressed well," he said, adding that the Taliban have ties with countries including Iran and Russia.

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When the government releases these militants from prisons; they will go to war and the stronghold of the enemy will get stronger. The killings will increase. Why are they released, while they have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, thousands of our security forces and other people? Why are they released? When they are released, who will respond about the blood shedding of these victims? Who will be responsible then? In fact the blood of these martyrs is forgotten and cruelty was committed against these martyrs. Each of these terrorist has made hundreds of women widow and children orphan. They must be held accountable for them. Ghani or any other person, who issues the release order of these terrorists, must respond.

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I think Taliban will once again take over the power in Afghanistan soon. Now this group has internal and external support with themselves. When you go to the North and Northeast of Afghanistan, as well as to the districts of Takhar, Badakhshan, Kunduz and Baghlan, you will see people supporting the Taliban. There are anti- government lessons taught in all madrasas (religious schools) of the above mentioned districts. The situation is very bad, particularly in Takhar and Badakhshan right now. People are tired of the oppression and cruelty of the Arbaki (Afghan Local Police); therefore, they support the Taliban. Businessmen, whose lives and capitals are not secure because of these robbers, support the Taliban. Only those people support the government who are paid and have jobs in the government. All the other citizens of the country support the Taliban. In the last presidential elections, you saw that out of 20 million eligible voters, just less than 2 million took part in casting their votes. It becomes clear that people are dissatisfied with the current government. The Afghan statesmen are quarreling over power. People know that they are not caring about people, but they are caring about filling their own pockets. Poverty and unemployment have reached to the peak. Now Taliban are also being supported by the countries of the region. Russia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates now recognize the group; therefore, if the major powers in the region, including the United States, do

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Where do the Taliban receive all the money and facilities from? Are they being supported by Pakistan alone? I don't think Pakistan can provide all the facilities to the group. There are numerous other countries that provide financial and military support to the Taliban. All the Arab countries want Taliban to restore the Islamic Emirate again in this country. So if the Arab countries do not help Taliban, I don't think the group can continue their war against the Afghan government for even a week.

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Karzai and Ghani strengthened Taliban by providing money from the public treasury. Taliban and ISIS were transferred from South to the North of the country through the government airplanes and cars. According to the media reports, a training center for the Taliban was set up in Logar province from the money of the government in the second year of Karzai's rule, and the security agencies were ordered not to conduct operations in the area; therefore, Taliban grew. Dahn-e- Ghori was deliberately given to Taliban by Gulab Mangal to work as their training and gathering center. They gathered there, became strong and equipped. They put the North in danger. Karzai gave them hundreds of million dollars. Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Masoom Stanikzai, Hamid Karzai and others submitted Dahn-e- Ghori to Taliban. They ordered that security forces do not have the right to launch operations in the area. ISIS members were transported through Turkish airplanes from Syria to Kabul and from there they were transported to the North by cooperation of the government. During the eras of both Karzai and Ghani, Helicopters landed during the night in Kunduz, Sar-e Pol, Jawzjan, Faryab and Baghlan, and gave weapons and equipment to the Taliban. They did so because of genocide. They committed genocide when Kunduz was captured by Taliban two times, and the governor and other relevant authorities were praised by the government. So water is contaminated from the top. There is ethnic prejudice; Taliban are their br

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I want to tell you one thing clearly that there is no hope for peace in Afghanistan. America helped Afghan government for 20 years in order to fight against the Taliban. Now it will help Taliban for 20 years to fight against the current government, and finally overthrow the government and replace it by Islamic Emirate. After that Taliban take over power, it will give money to the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban. This war and bloodshed will continue in this country as long as all the people in this country get killed.

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I think these pictures are not taken in Afghanistan. On the contrary, they are taken somewhere in Pakistan, and there are two reasons behind this; one is that Pakistan was training armed men during the time of [jihadi] organizations too, and they are still supporting the terrorists. The second is that, if they were in Afghanistan, American forces would certainly have seen and targeted them with drones. The real enemy of the world and mother of terrorists is Pakistan.

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