Diplomacy

Taliban members who embrace peace are welcome in Afghan government: lawmakers

By Najibullah

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Rahmatullah Andar (3rd from left) attends a National Security Council meeting November 5 in Kabul. [Office of the National Security Council]

KABUL -- There is a place for members of the Taliban in the Afghan government, but only if they renounce violence and pledge to work for the betterment of Afghanistan for all Afghans, lawmakers and analysts say.

Rahmatullah Andar, a spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) and a former Taliban commander, is a prime example.

"The government does not belong to a few individuals or groups, but to all Afghans," he said. "There is great scope for the Taliban to join the government, and there is no problem in this, but only if they accept peace."

"In the framework of the constitution of Afghanistan, everyone has space and the Taliban can also be absorbed in the government," he said.

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Rahmatullah Andar poses for a photograph at the Afghan Presidential Palace in Kabul. [Courtesy of Rahmatullah Andar]

Andar spent two months in jail in 2004 and was imprisoned again in 2007 for more than two years.

After being a member of the Taliban for 11 years, in 2012 he realised his "ideological differences" with the outfit and abandoned his affiliation, he told BBC Farsi in an interview that aired October 16.

"Besides me, many other religious scholars work in the current government," he said, adding that his role in the government "does not strengthen or weaken the government's religious argument against the Taliban".

"Many religious scholars are part of the government's negotiating team" and can argue with the Taliban from the point of religion, he said.

"The republic is an umbrella with space for people from all walks of society," he said, adding that the current political structure is "the best and [most] inclusive system".

"It tries its best to provide public services to the highest extent possible," he said.

Taking power through legal means

The first and only way to achieve legitimate power is through peace, said Wazhma Safi, a member of the Wolesi Jirga from Kunar Province.

If the Taliban make peace and accept the constitution, nothing blocks them from serving in senior government positions, she said.

"If the Taliban are really committed to peace and want it, there is no doubt that sacrifices must be made," she said. "In peace, while we gain certain things, we lose certain things. And this applies to both sides, including some senior members of the government."

"If neither side makes sacrifices, then peace is not possible," Safi said. "The Taliban must reach an understanding in this regard by accepting the constitution and working alongside government officials."

"Every politician adopts different positions in life, but consequently, the best option is to choose a path that benefits the people and the country," said Ahmad Behruz, a Kabul-based political analyst.

"If the Taliban leaders are committed to the country, similar to Andar, they should renounce violence, and come and work alongside their own people in the reconstruction and prosperity of the country," he said.

Other former members of the Taliban and of other armed opposition groups are now serving in the government and living in peace, said Behruz.

The only way to end the war in Afghanistan is through a ceasefire and negotiations, said Abdul Rahim Rahim, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga from Badghis Province.

"The only system in which Afghans can see themselves participating is the republic system and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: a system that relies on the votes of the people," he said. "The Taliban should join such a government."

"If the Taliban claim to have public support, they should come and run in elections and participate in the formation of an Islamic government according to the law," Rahim said.

Najia Nasiri, a 24-year-old political science student in Kabul, also urged the Taliban to choose a peaceful way to power.

"Some leaders of the Taliban might be concerned about losing their positions if they make peace, but they should know that the only way of taking power legitimately is through elections," she said.

"Several former Taliban members who realised that violence is not the solution and renounced it now serve in various positions in the government," Najia added. "This is the best and most suitable option."

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Why didn’t the government reveal the secret of Rahmatullah Andar, the new spokesman of the Afghan National Security Council and a former Taliban commander and his reason for joining the government to the people? Some time before, we learned from the media that Rahmatullah Andar was appointed as the spokesman of the Afghan National Security Council, but we do not know that once he was a key individual of the Taliban on the battlefields, and today we learned from your media outlet that he was a Taliban commander in the past. Your media publishes very interesting news and reports. The news was very interesting for me that a Taliban commander came and was appointed as the spokesman of the National Security Council, which is the nucleus of the Afghan government.

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If this person is captured by the Taliban, they will not leave him alive. They may kill him with the worst death. Anyone who worked with Taliban for even a week and left them again, Taliban will not leave him alive. Therefore, Taliban fighters who stop fighting must either leave the country or get a job in the government. Otherwise, they cannot live and work like common people.

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