No one wants Taliban’s return to power: Salarzai

KABUL (Pajhwok): No one wants the Taliban to come back to power, says the Afghan ambassador to the European Union and NATO. Nazirullah Salarzai said in an interview Kabul was negotiating with the Taliban to find on ending decades of conflict in Afghanistan.

Deutsche Welle asked him if the US would walk away from the country after spending so much blood and treasure for two decades. Salarzai replied in the negative, saying the US had invested a lot in his country since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban regime. Peace talks were under way between the Ghani government and the Taliban, with the US mounting pressure on both sides to arrive at a political solution, he said.

Under a landmark peace agreement the Trump administration signed with Taliban last year, all foreign forces will leave Afghanistan before May 1. The deadline may not be met as the Biden administration is currently reviewing the agreement with the insurgent movement.

Speaking from Brussels, Salarzai said the Afghan government’s objective was to preserve “the hard-won gains of the last 20 years”. No one wanted the Taliban’s return to power, he reiterated. While acknowledge that the peace talks were a lengthy process, the diplomat commented: “Those sitting around the tables are the reality of Afghanistan.”

The government’s negotiating team included a female, Salarzai Insisted Afghanistan’s leadership had a strong interest in promoting women’s rights. Afghan security forces were trying to protect the citizens, Salarzai said, adding the rulers had a strong will to eliminate the culture of impunity. On the collapse of the Kabul Bank as a result of corruption, the government had promised recovering the roughly one billion dollars lost. “Half of those funds have been recovered,” the ambassador concluded.