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


comments powered by Disqus