Afghanistan: Hamid Gul outlines Taliban demands
(AKI) The Taliban will agree to peace talks if they are recognised as a political force, if a date is set for the withdrawal of international forces, and if Taliban prisoners are released, according to Pakistan’s former spy chief, Retired Lt. General Hamid Gul.
Gul a former head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), said he believes negotations need to be taken forward with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. “Pakistan has to be brought on board too,” he told Adnkronos International (AKI) and a small group of Western news organisations at a briefing in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. “I know the Taliban, I have worked with them for a long time, and can say they would never talk to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, they consider him a mere traitor and puppet,” Gul said.
Taliban would be prepared to parley with the Americans but only on certain conditions, he said. First, that such talks are held publicly; that the US recognise the Taliban are not terrorists but fighters who are defending their country; that the US and NATO give a date for the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan; and that all Taliban prisoners are freed.
“Barack Obama is wanting to outdo his rival, and that is not a good sign,” Gul said, referring respectively to the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate his Republican Party rival John McCain.
The US presidential election campaign is among various obstacles to any peace talks with the Taliban, according to Gul. “Barrack Obama is wanting to outdo his rival, and that is not a good sign,” Gul said, referring respectively to the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate his Republican Party rival John McCain. “That means they want to continue following the same line of action that they have during the last seven years. And I am afraid this is going to bring disaster,” Gul continued.
Pakistan, wracked by terrorism and a deep economic crisis, an environment in which anti-Americanism is thriving, is facing collapse, Gul warned.
The implications of this situation for the fight against terrorism and the security of the country’s nuclear arsenal, are dire, he said. “The risk is real, there could be a civil war, even a revolution along the lines of the Iranian one. Personally, I hope for a revoultion but a soft one, like that the one born in America during the Vietnam war or like pacifist movements in Europe against the war in Iraq, ” Gul stated.
Something along these lines has occurred in Pakistan recently, with the lawyers movement and the judges who marched for a return to democracy, he said.
Musharraf committed the inexcusable error of aligning himself with the US’s ‘war on terror’, Gul said. But he also had criticism for the fledgling government of Musharraf’s successor, Asif Ali Zardari, the widow of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Gul described Zardari as a “civilian dictator” who he claimed has adopted the same policies and autocratic leadership style as Musharraf. “It is very necessary that Parliament should call the shots, as a collective body, as a sovereign body under the democratic system,” Gul stated. “His role as President of Pakistan is as the constitutional head. Everything else should be given to the parliament and the Prime Minister and the Cabinet,” Gul stressed.
Discussing anti-Taliban operations in northwest Pakistan, Gul said it was hard to say exactly how many Taliban were in area along the border with Afghanistan, but the figure could be between 15,000 and 20,000. The more the Americans step up their cross-border operations, the more the Afghans will identify with the Taliban, Gul warned.
Many villagers in northwest Pakistan, especially in North and South Wazaristan tribal areas have a lot of sympathy for the Taliban’s cause and believe it is their duty to help them – on the Pakistani and Afghan sides of the border, Gul noted. “The nation does not look upon this as Pakistan’s war,” he said.
He advised NATO forces in Afghanistan, including Italian troops, to withdraw, and urged them to start planning this immediately, ahead of a fresh Taliban campaign next Spring when fighting resumes after the winter lull. “The reconstruction of the country is impossible without peace. Peace has to come first,” Gul concluded.
#1 How come this man has never been targeted as he is the brains behind Taliban/AlQ and is a major enemy of the West!!!!
Posted by Paul 2008-10-16
#2 Preconditions! Surrender or die. Sounds like good preconditions to me.
Posted by Richard of Oregon 2008-10-16
#3 “I know the Taliban, I have worked with them for a long time”
That’s a targeting!
Posted by Darrell 2008-10-16
05/10/2008 6:20 AM
A quick quetion for all Taleban sympathizers:
Aren’t you doing the same that you are accusing the politicians of doing? Why aren’t you fighting on the side of your brethren in Bajaur or Swat, while your Emir has declared jehad?
Instead, you are sitting comfortably in front of a PC, enjoying life – lecturing others on what they should be doing.
BEFORE YOU GO, Make sure your beard is longer than a fist, your daughters don’t go to school, you do not vaccinate your kids against polio, and you have not ever listened to any music or watched any TV – ever in your life. OR YOU WOULD BE THE BIGGEST HYPOCRITE IN THE WORLD. After reading this lines do NOT every indulge in this worldly things.
There was nothing good about the Taleban rule in Afghanistan. They are barbaric, brutal, and un-Islamic (There are hundreds of fatwas against their actions, specifically suicide bombings etc.). They have killed more Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan than the Americans. So, please stop idealizing their rule unless you are willing to live under them. And you already have a choice, go to Bajaur or Swat or Mehsud area in Waziristan and live with them.
There are terrible, terrible terrorists around the world including Hindu extremists, elements in the bharti/gujrat government, jewish, tamil terrorist – they are are condemnable. They are a scum on the face of earth. And the sun rises in the east. And there are many other facts which are true.
But, we are not discussing them. Pakistan’s present troubles is what we are talking about. Taliban is the entity which threatens and carries out majority of bloody attacks on our cities – killing and maiming innocent Pakistanis. They are not harmless brothers committing minor “mistakes” and “misunderstandings”, they are destroying our society – and you want to talk about Gujarat?
Most of the world, including all Muslim countries, hates anybody who tries to destroy their societies. But, only in Pakistan these killers and maniacs have sympathizers. May Allah Help Pakistan recover from this fitna.
Do you not see any value in the lives that have been lost in all those suicide bombings. What is wrong with calling a bad/evil deed evil?
I rest my case.
05/10/2008 11:51 PM
One of the defining properties of taliban is that they are too stubborn in their beliefs. Moreover, they have shown themselves very bad in learning from their mistakes. My impression is that they will remain with these unwanted qualities as long as they remain on this planet. I don’t believe in phrase like “Axis of Evil”. In a National Geographic documentary “Inside Taliban”, audience were told that Taliban had miraculously eradicated opium production and maintain peace. These are not my words but National Geographic. This tell us had they broader vision or ability to learn from their mistakes, they may have improved.
Ideological groups like Taliban are product of their socio-cultural and political context. Regarding them as a creation of ISI is nothing but a oversimplification. It is not saying that Taliban were not helped by ISI. But only later when ISI felt that this group has potential to carried out their objectives. If ISI help was everything, why then Hikmat Yar, despite his more than three years long efforts with ISI complete support, had failed to conquered Kabul? So Taliban is not mere ISI creation. By this assessment one may misconstrued me as a Taliban supporter; which I am not. I am merely trying to study Taliban as objectively as possible. My analysis may be wrong. You may present an argument for that. I may amend my assessment accordingly.
As I mentioned above, Taliban is an ideological group. How can you defeat an ideology by bullet? All ideas are bullet-proof. Only another idea can destroy an idea. TTP, borrowing your term, is acting like a terrorist organization, but how will you tame it?
The crux of the matter is to marginalize it politically in the region in which it operate in. Of course, one should end military means as much as possible, and relies on policing when use of force is necessary.
I too heard from credible sources that Mulla Omer disown this TTP or Baitullah Mehsood. So TTP should not be identified with the Afghani Taliban. This is the point to which I agree with Evergreen. However, I don’t regard Taliban as liberator as such. Their inability to learn from their mistakes, being quite stubborn in their beliefs, can never make them liberator. This also ensures that Taliban can never attain the same power as they were in 1998.
I personally believe that Baitullah is now playing in the hands of CIA and RAW. Why? ISI had tracked him down twice and ask US army to hit him by missile. But US army didn’t. Later on US army said that this intelligence was not credible enough. US army only targets those groups which are not pro-Pakistani. Baitullah Mehsood is fighting with only those groups who are pro-Pakistan.