Posted on February 6, 2019
The Taliban official who has led the group’s peace negotiations with the US has told the BBC the insurgents do not want to seize “the whole country by [military] power”.
“It will not bring peace to Afghanistan,” Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said.
However, he said the group would not agree to a ceasefire until foreign forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan.
UN data shows that the Taliban are responsible for more civilian casualties than any other warring party. Mr Stanikzai, who until recently was the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and remains a leading figure in the group, spoke to the BBC while attending a meeting in Moscow with a number of senior Afghan opposition politicians.
He said the Taliban’s experiences in power in the 1990s, when it faced armed opposition from rival Afghan groups, had led the group to conclude it was preferable to reach a solution by “coming to the table”.
“Peace is more difficult than war,” Mr Stanikzai added, alluding to the difficulties in reaching a settlement. But he expressed hopes that the conflict could be brought to an end.
Mr Stanikzai has overseen a series of meetings with the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, in recent months.
In January, they reached what Mr Khalilzad termed as a “draft framework” of an agreement.
It was based on a commitment to withdraw US forces from the country, and a guarantee by the Taliban not to allow international jihadist groups to use Afghanistan as a base in the future.