Regional powers seen behind escalating unrest
KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): Tribal elders and political analysts believe increasing violence in southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, is the result of rivalries among regional powers.
The world wants to end the war, imposed on the country, through peace talks but neighbours are trying to have their say in any deal with the rebels, Mohammad Omar Sati, a tribal elder, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
"The peace parleys are a shared demand of the international community and Afghans, but neighbouring and regional countries want a spike in violence to put pressure on the world to accept their role in reaching a settlement," he believed.
Sati said a sudden increase in militant attacks in Kandahar City, the provincial capital, at such a critical time indicated the designs of neighbouring countries. However, he did name any country.
Shahida Hussain, a progressive woman, said militants were not independent in their actions, and that they took dictates from their foreign masters.
"Whether the fighters agree to talks or carry out attacks, their actions are directed by others," she said, calling on the insurgents to stop playing into the hands of others and renounce violence in the larger interest of Afghanistan.
Maulvi Noor-ul-Aziz Agha, a former Taliban governor of Kunduz who recently joined the peace process, called the violence in Kandahar the handiwork of foreign powers. "This is not true that the Taliban carry out attacks, they only claim responsibility."
Hekmatullah, a resident of the Herat Bazaar area, said: "If the Taliban are sincere about talks with the US and the Afghan government, they must stop fighting."
Governor Tooryalai Wesa has said suicide attacks by the Taliban were meant to show their strength ahead of the proposed talks with the US in Doha.
On Jan. 3, two suicide attacks took place in Kandahar City. One of the attacks was carried out by a motorcyclist, who detonated his explosives-packed bike in a crowded bazaar, killing four children and a policeman.
The second blast killed seven people and wounded over a dozen others. The dead included four civilians and three policemen.
The governor said both Afghan citizens and the government would continue their war against the militants. The deadly attacks showed the real face of the Taliban, who wanted to implement the agenda of their foreign masters.
On January 12, the Taliban also vowed to continue with their armed struggle against the government and its western backers, despite reconciliation talks with the US.
The movement has been trying over the past one and a half decade to enforce an Islamic order in Afghanistan and force foreign troops to withdraw from the country, a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement.
In order to achieve that goal and bring peace and stability to the country, the movement had stepped up political efforts to enter negotiations with the international community, the statement added.
On January 3, the Taliban confirmed they had agreed to open a political office in Qatar for peace negotiations with the international fraternity.
"We are ready to have a political office overseas to reach an understanding with the international community. In this regard, we have arrived at an initial understanding with Qatar," the movement said two weeks ago.
President Hamid Karzai, who supports the opening of the Taliban's political bureau in Qatar, insists on a ceasefire prior to peace negotiations.