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Afghanistan peace envoy fears pullout will embolden Taliban

By New Indian Express

The Afghan government’s chief peace envoy expressed fears on Friday that the Taliban will have no interest in a political settlement with the US-supported administration in Kabul after the scheduled departure of American and NATO forces.

Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s National Reconciliation Council, said there were signs that the Taliban were seeking military advances ahead of the September 11 troop withdrawal.

He warned however that, if so, the extremist Islamic movement was making a “big miscalculation.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Abdullah also said Afghanistan’s neighbours must refrain from interfering and instead seek cooperation with Kabul for the country’s long-term stability.

“(Withdrawal) will have an impact on the negotiation with the Taliban,” Abdullah said.

“(They) may find themselves further emboldened and they may think — some of them at least — that with the withdrawal, they can take advantage of the situation militarily.

He added however that “it will be a big miscalculation….should they think that they can win militarily. There are no winners through the continuation of the war.” Abdullah said there are signs that the Taliban are trying to take over provincial districts in a bid to take “advantage of that situation.

“But it’s something that defies the lessons of history,” he said.

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