Mullah Omar may be willing to hold peace talks: Report

Last Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2010 - 17:38

London: Afghan Taliban`s supreme leader
Mullah Mohammed Omar has indicated that he and his followers
may be willing to hold "sincere and honest" talks with western
politicians to achieve three objectives, including return of
sharia law in Afghanistan, a media report said Friday.

Omar wants to leave politics to civil society and
return to their madrasas (religious schools).

Two of the movement`s senior Islamic scholars have
relayed a message from the Quetta Shura, the Taliban`s ruling
council, that Mullah Omar "no longer aims to rule
Afghanistan," The Sunday Times reported.

They told the paper Omar was prepared to engage in
"sincere and honest talks."

At a meeting held at night deep inside Taliban-
controlled territory, the Taliban leaders told the newspaper
that their military campaign had only three objectives: the
return of sharia (Islamic law), the expulsion of foreigners
and the restoration of security.

"Mullah Omar is no longer interested in being
involved in politics or government," said Mullah "Abdul
Rashid", the elder of the two commanders, who used a pseudonym
to protect this identity.

"All the mujaheddin seek is to expel the foreigners,
these invaders, from our country and then to repair the
country`s Constitution. We are not interested in running the
country as long as these things are achieved."

The report said the interview was conducted by a
reputable Afghan journalist employed by the Times with two
members of the shura that directs Taliban activity across the
whole of southern Afghanistan, including Helmand and Kandahar
provinces.

It was arranged through a well established contact
with the Taliban`s supreme leadership, it said.

Looking back on five years in government until they
were ousted after the attacks in America on September 11,
2001, the Taliban leaders said their movement had become too
closely involved in politics.

Abdul Rashid said: "We didn`t have the capability to
govern the country and we were surprised by how things went.

We lacked people with either experience or technical expertise
in government.

"Now all we`re doing is driving the invader out. We
will leave politics to civil society and return to our
madrasas (religious schools)."

The Taliban`s position emerged as an American official
said colleagues in Washington were discussing whether
President Barack Obama could reverse a long-standing US policy
and permit direct American talks with the Taliban.

If the Taliban`s military aims no longer included a
take-over of the Afghan government, this would represent "a
major and important shift" the US official told the newspaper.

The two leaders insisted that reports of contact
between the Taliban and the Kabul government were a "fraud"
and stemmed from claims made by "charlatans".

Up to now, no officially sanctioned talks have taken
place; the paper quoted them as saying.

According to a NATO intelligence source, Taliban
representatives have established direct contact with several
ministers in President Hamid Karzai`s government.

But they refuse to have any direct contact with
Karzai, whom they regard as an "illegitimate puppet".

Abdul Rashid said there had been Taliban commanders
who had financed their campaigns by taking bribes to give safe
passage to Nato supply convoys or from drug smugglers.

But the Taliban`s leadership had ordered a halt to
this.

"What we do is not for a worldly cause - it is for the
sake of Allah. More important than the fighting for us now is
the process of purification. We are getting rid of all the
rotten applies," he said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010 - 17:38

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