Taliban leader ready for peace if foreigners leave
KABUL (PAN): A regional Taliban commander in eastern Nangarhar province has said he will be the first among his comrades to reconcile with the government if it expels all foreign soldiers from the country.
Maulvi Abdul Jamal, who claims controlling vast swathes in one of Nangarhar districts, where his group has been active, told Pajhwok Afghan News during a live interview that a complete international troop pullout remained their precondition for reconciliation.
Before the interview, the commander, who has built a mud-made castle on the top of a mountain somewhere in the east, told this reporter to bring only a voice recorder.
This scribe was taken to the commander under escort of three masked gunmen in a car after a thorough body search. They took all equipment from this reporter and remained silent throughout the journey, except "yes" and "no".
After about a 25-minute drive on a dust road, the car entered the castle, where a young child was waiting at the main gate to say welcome.
There was a large room where several gun totting men were sitting. As this reporter along with the three masked men entered the room, the men inside stood in respect, saying welcome.
It was the first ever live interview with Jamal, though telephonic conversations had taken place with him regarding security events.
"Welcome, Welcome, Mr. reporter, did you come across any problem on your way here?," Jamal asked as this reporter shook hands with him.
His politeness in talks encouraged this reporter to confidently start the interview. After informal conversations, when the Taliban leader was asked if he was ready for the interview, he said it should involve only a voice recorder.
To the first question about the motive behind their insurgency, Jamal said they did not want to be ruled by others.
"Until and unless foreigners are here, our armed resistance would continue," said the regional militant leader, who held international troops responsible for the death of countless people, including women and children, in Afghanistan.
Maulvi Jamal, who proclaims himself as Qahraman (national hero), said they would arrive at the negotiation table with the Kabul administration after all foreign troops were withdrawn.
He rejected as "pure lies" government's claims and figures about insurgents joining the peace process, accusing high peace council officials of producing "fake Taliban fighters" to the media in return for making money.
Jamal put a laptop in his front and connected it the internet to open Pajhwok site.
"I daily follow news that contain information about security events. It makes me very sad when I see a number of innocent Afghans are killed on a daily basis," Jamal said.
"Groups who are paid by Pakistan aim to earn a bad name to the real mujahidin," remarked Jamal, who warned Pakistan-backed groups of dire consequences if they had an anti-Afghanistan agenda.
The commander of a 30-member militant outfit asked the government to de-friend foreigners and hug sons of the soil.
"I will be the first among my comrades to make peace with the government if it expels all foreigners," said Jamal, who renewed his warning to Afghans against cooperation with NATO-led troops.
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