Kandahar, 25 Nov. (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - While the western media raised hopes of a reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government when Saudi Arabia sponsored talks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the man named as one of the main negotiators, Mullah Mohammad Hasan Rahmani, denied any involvement.
The Saudi government owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat even quoted the Afghan Minister of Information, Sheikh Mohammed Tashkiri, who said a second round of negotiations took place in Dubai between a delegation from Kabul and one from the Taliban movement.
According to Tashkiri, "on both occasions representatives of Mullah Omar participated in the meetings, the most authoritative among them was Mullah Mohammad Hasan Rahmani".
However, in an interview with AKI, Mullah Hasan Rahmani, a close advisor of Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, rejected the claims saying they were a figment of the imagination of the Kabul administration led by President Hamid Karzai.
Earlier Hamid Karzai called for an amnesty for Mullah Omar, if he laid down his weapons.
And last weekend the German daily, Der Spiegel, said King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had offered political asylum to Mullah Omar, a move which the Saudi government later denied.
The Taliban believes these suggestions are designed to split the organisation ahead of next year's presidential elections and to create sympathy in the majority Pashtun dominated areas particularly in Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold and Karzai's main political constituency.
“Today the Taliban is successful and the Americans and the NATO forces are in a state of defeat," Mullah Rahmani said.
"The enemy wants to engage the Taliban and deviate their minds. Sometimes they offer talks, sometimes they offer other fake issues. The Taliban never ever asked for talks, neither do we want these talks to be held.
"Neither the Saudi Arabian initiative [in Mecca] nor the Saudi Arabian proposal [regarding Mullah Omar] is acceptable,” Mullah Hasan Rahmani said.
Hasan Rahmani completely denied that any Taliban representatives attended King Abdullah’s dinner in September or any other talks with the Kabul government.
“In the last days of Ramadan, the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, was invited for dinner, but later the media projected that talks had begun with the Taliban under Saudi mediation," he said.
"That was to weaken the Taliban and their jihad. The fact is that the Taliban were not part of such talks, nor are they ready to be so.”
Fifty-year-old Hasan Rahmani lost his left leg during the Soviet War in Afghanistan and is one of Mullah Omar's closest advisers.
He was appointed governor of Kandahar under the Taliban regime and was part of the fundamentalist faction of the Mujahadeen, Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan, which opposed the Soviet occupation.
The Taliban believe President Hamid Karzai is making a last-ditch attempt to save his political career by offering an olive branch to the Taliban as sentiments are high in Pashtun areas especially in Kandahar province, where Karzai draws his support.
However, Hasan Rahmani believes that such efforts are of no use.
“The entire world knows that he does not have a base or support. He is a weak person. Nobody believes Karzai is able to be supportive or useful to them. He has even lost the support of NATO and the Americans, therefore it is unlikely he will get the same attention from the people as he got during the last presidential elections,” Hasan Rahmani said.
“All tribes including Karzai’s own tribe (Popalzai) have collectively decided to support theTaliban.”
“The Achakzai, Noorzai, Hajizai, Wazir and the tribes stretching up to Kunar and Khost are all with the Taliban ... and the Barakzai tribe. The Popalzai, the Ishaqzai ... those opposed to the Taliban are now embarrassed and are contacting the Taliban, saying that Hamid Karzai deceived them,” he added.
Hasan Rahmani said that the Taliban was winning the battle against US and other foreign troops and warned that they would be defeated.
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