Mid-level Taliban insurgency commanders do not believe their leaders have begun tentative peace talks with the Afghan government, with many vowing on Friday not to give up the fight after nearly 10 years of war.
NATO and Afghan officials have confirmed preliminary contacts between President Hamid Karzai’s government and the Taliban, although doubt surrounds when those contacts were made, who they were made with and what, if any, progress was made.
But insurgency commanders from across Afghanistan indicated they were not involved in the initial contacts. “No one has come so far and sat with the government and there is no hope that the Taliban will come and negotiate with the government,” said Abdullah Nasrat, the Taliban commander for Girishk district in southern Helmand province, one of the Taliban’s traditional strongholds.
“We basically hear the reports of talks through the press and do not believe in them,” Nasrat told Reuters by telephone. “As long as foreign forces are in Afghanistan, there will be no talks. Our morale is high.” Providing an upbeat assessment of recent offensives, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Berlin that insurgents in Afghanistan were on the back foot.
“The insurgency is under pressure, under pressure like never before in Afghanistan. Our aim for this year was to regain momentum,” Rasmussen said. “Now we have it.”
Salahuddin Ayoubi, a senior commander for the Haqqani network’s Sirajuddin Haqqani, accused U.S. General David Petraeus, the commander of the almost 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, of trying to drive a wedge through the insurgency.