Afghan Taliban to blame for cancellation of peace summit, analysts say

By Ashfaq Yusufzai

Smoke rises in Kabul September 3 from the site of an attack after a massive explosion September 2 near the Green Village. The attack was one of many that the Taliban carried out as it held peace talks with the United States. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Smoke rises in Kabul September 3 from the site of an attack after a massive explosion September 2 near the Green Village. The attack was one of many that the Taliban carried out as it held peace talks with the United States. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

PESHAWAR -- Security analysts in Pakistan are blaming the Afghan Taliban for sabotaging talks with the United States by carrying out attacks despite agreeing in principle to reduce violence.

US President Donald Trump Saturday (September 7) announced he had called off a secret summit in Camp David, the presidential retreat near Washington, that would have included separate talks with the Afghan government and the Taliban, AFP reported.

"Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday," Trump said in a tweet.

"Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people," said Trump, referring to a bombing on Thursday (September 5) in Kabul that killed a US soldier and another service member from Romania.

Image posted on social media shows the aftermath of a Taliban car bomb that exploded in Kabul on September 3. [File]

Image posted on social media shows the aftermath of a Taliban car bomb that exploded in Kabul on September 3. [File]

The bombing was the latest major attack claimed by the Taliban even as they negotiated with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on the withdrawal of US troops.

The Taliban had agreed in principle to holding direct talks with Afghan leaders, reducing violence and breaking ties with al-Qaeda, among other items, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on CNN Sunday (September 8).

"If we can't get those conditions met ... we're not going to enter into any deal," he said.

"When the Taliban tried to gain a negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country, President Trump made the right decision" to walk away, he said. "It made no sense for the Taliban to be rewarded for that kind of bad behaviour."

Dashing hopes for peace

"US President Donald Trump's announcement September 7 calling off the meeting with senior Taliban leaders at Camp David shouldn't surprise anyone because the militants wanted to rule by force," said Peshawar-based security analyst Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah.

The Afghan Taliban cannot be trusted because they have habitually broken peace agreements in the past, said Shah, who helped broker the first-ever peace deal (the Shakai agreement) with the Pakistani Taliban in April 2004 as secretary for security of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in South Waziristan.

The Shakai agreement fell apart two months later because the Pakistani Taliban refused to give up violence.

"In the past too, militants have broken peace deals as they preferred violence over peace. They draw strength from violence," Shah said, speaking from experience.

Expecting an end to the decades-long war from Taliban militants is wrong as they have been trained how to use guns and bombs and as peace has no place in their strategy, he said.

"The Taliban dashed hopes of peace as they continued talks with the United States while carrying out bombings in Afghanistan simultaneously, which prompted President Trump to walk away from talks," said Islamabad-based senior security analyst Lt. Gen. (ret.) Talat Masood.

"It is extremely disappointing that the long-awaited outcome of peace talks has been shattered. We had nursed hopes that the Taliban would end terrorism and opt for peace, but they didn't," he said.

"The Taliban are notorious for killing students, women and children to establish their unlawful writ," said Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar-based senior security and political analyst. "They have adopted such strategies in the former FATA and in Malakand as well as in Afghanistan."

"The Muslim ummah should appeal to the Taliban to end violence and resume talks," Hussain said.

The Taliban have brought a bad name to Muslims throughout the world by repeatedly breaking their promises, said Maulana Jalal Shah, a prayer leader in Peshawar.

"As Muslims, you have to abide by the agreements you make with opponents because honouring promises is a basic element of Islam," he said, speaking to the Taliban.

However, the militants will continue to kill their own people, against the teachings of Islam, he said.

Religious scholars belonging to all schools of thought have denounced and issued edicts against suicide attacks, but the Taliban continue the same killing and wounding of civilians, said Shah the prayer leader.

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History is evident that no agreement with Taliban has ever been implemented because they cannot cease violence and the main reason is factional division. Which means that a commander of a specific area acts at his own will and central command has little authority in this regard to issue some strategy and to stop the commanders from their activities. During 18 years of insurgency 3,600 troops and hundreds of thousands of locals have been killed among which majority was women, children, elderly and common people. Such acts should better be called brawl instead of Jihad.


What to comment about this. American bomb attacks at weddings are legitimate during negotiations but Taliban’s attack at some military cantonment is illegitimate during negotiations. What an integrity and principal… Killing of Mullah Haibat Ullah’s brother during negotiations is legitimate


America had been asking for a ceasefire for fifteen days so that she may get the forces out in the meanwhile. But Taliban were of the view that they cannot quit Jihad unless the agreement is made. Upon a halt in negotiation, Taliban got reports that America was seamlessly withdrawing its troops. Which meant that afterwards a massacre was to be initiated through the Blackwater and Taliban would have been defamed in the name of terrorism. Taliban started advancing and conquered Kunduz and proceeded towards Kabul. What men of God they were with worn out shoes and walking barefooted, but their fear was such that Zalmay Khalilzad spoke up at 1 O’clock at night that they are still standing at their agreement and the agreement has been sent to Trump for signing and if Taliban take responsibility of their security, they would call back all their troops. Taliban were not to be betrayed through these tactics now, their target was the Camp Integrity established in Green Village, where Blackwater was armed and ready to despoil Afghan peace. This attack was so intense that the whole area was turned into an earthquake stricken tumble downed building. Immediately after the blast, Taliban entered there and killed about thirty Blackwater officials and injured about a hundred and fifty. No one had an idea that Taliban would be present in the main security area while they were busy in the campaign of Pul-e-Khumry after conquering Kunduz. Taliban also released the photo of the Blackwater in-charg