Wednesday Aug 04, 2021
The US has issued a clear warning to the Taliban that if the group takes over Afghanistan by force, it will turn it into a "pariah state", as the conflict in Afghanistan rages on, with foreign forces leaving the country.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad spoke to a US publication where he discussed the Afghanistan peace process and reconciliation in detail.
He pointed out that the agreement signed between the US and the Taliban had provided an opportunity to Afghans to sit across the table from one another and come up with a power-sharing formula "that would have broad support in Afghanistan and international support as well".
However, he said it is unfortunate that the two sides have not taken advantage of that.
"We are always looking for ways and means to help accelerate the negotiations because we don't see a military solution to the war in Afghanistan," he said.
"There must be a political solution, a political agreement for a lasting peace, and we will stay with it. We are committed to staying with it until that that goal is achieved."
Khalilzad said he is concerned by the lack of progress in peace talks between the warring parties, adding that there "continues to be a big gap between the two sides".
However, he urged both the Taliban and the Afghanistan government to focus on the bigger picture and keep their country's interests above theirs.
"There cannot be peace without a compromise, without give and take, without respect for the fundamental rights of all Afghans men and women and the Afghans having a say, ultimately the people and in terms of what happens to them," he said.
Khalilzad's interview is of particular importance as violence in Afghanistan has recently escalated, following the announcement by the US and its allies that they are pulling out foreign forces from the country.
On Tuesday, four people were killed and 20 wounded in a coordinated bomb and gun attack targeting the Afghan defence minister and several lawmakers in the country's capital Tuesday, not far from the heavily fortified Green Zone.
The wave of blasts, which Washington said bore the "hallmarks" of the Taliban, came as the Afghan army urged residents to evacuate a besieged southern city ahead of a planned offensive against the insurgents after three days of heavy fighting.
Security officials told AFP four people were killed and 20 others wounded in Tuesday's attack, with medical charity Emergency saying four bodies of people killed in the assault had been brought to its facility in Kabul.
The interior ministry said the attack had been successfully repelled and all the attackers had been killed by security forces.
"A big number of people were rescued and the area is secured now," spokesman Mirwais Stanikzai told reporters.
The first bomb blew up in central Kabul late on Tuesday, sending a thick plume of smoke into the sky, AFP correspondents reported.
Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi had said it was a suicide car bomb attack targeting his house.
"Unfortunately some of my guards are wounded," he added in a video message.