The Taliban has been engaging in sweeping offensives across the country in recent weeks.
The Taliban “strenuously favours” a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, the insurgent’s supreme leader said on Sunday, despite launching indiscriminate offensives nationwide.
In a message released just days ahead of the Islamic Eid Al-Adha holiday and amid senior level meetings in Qatar, Hibatullah Akhundzada doubled down on intentions to establish an Islamic Emirate.
“In spite of the military gains and advances, the Islamic Emirate strenuously favours a political settlement in the country, and every opportunity for the establishment of an Islamic system, peace and security that presents itself will be made use of by the Islamic Emirate,” Akhundzada said.
The high-level meetings between the Republic & the Taliban negotiation teams continued in Doha. We are looking for a positive & constructive outcome. pic.twitter.com/eNpIY4Ogf3
— Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (@DrabdullahCE) July 17, 2021
“Our message remains that instead of relying on foreigners, let us resolve our issues among ourselves and rescue our homeland from the prevailing crisis,” he added.
The message came just a day after an Afghan government delegation met with the insurgents in Doha where peace talks have so far struggled to make progress as the Taliban continues its sweeping offensives.
Initial talks in Qatar kicked off in September last year, when Afghan government and the Taliban came face to face in order to reach a political settlement following decades of conflict between the two parties.
However, with US and foreign troops now withdrawing from the war-torn country, the Taliban has capitalised on the moment to make major territorial gains.
“As we pursue our greater goals, we have to go beyond the details,” the Taliban’s Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said in his opening remarks in Doha.
While little detail is available on the meeting, the dialogue is set to continue on Sunday.
In a tweet posted online, BBC journalist Lyse Doucet said the government described the first round of talks as “not bad”, while the head of Afghanistan’s reconciliation council Abdullah Abdullah confirmed: “We are looking for a positive and constructive outcome”.
Speaking to AFP, spokeswoman for the Afghan government, Najia Anwari said more is expected on Sunday.
“Tomorrow they will definitely have a final result of all the work they have done,” she said.
Meanwhile, the militant group has taken control of several key areas across Afghanistan, forcing civilians to flee the violence.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan [UNAMA] notes up to 7,792 children were killed and 18,662 injured in the past decade alone, in addition to more than 3,000 deaths recorded among women, according to Al Jazeera.
The UN’s refugee agency also warned that Afghanistan is on the brink of yet another humanitarian crisis, noting 270,000 Afghans are estimated to have been newly internally displaced since January – raising the total number of Afghans forced from their homes to more than 3.5 million.
Furthermore, civilian casualties had increased by 29% during the first quarter of this year compared with 2020.
The WHO’s regional emergencies director Rick Brennan said up to 18.4 million people in Afghanistan now require humanitarian assistance, including 3.1 million children at risk of acute malnutrition.
On Saturday, France evacuated around 100 citizens and Afghans working for the embassy in Kabul as security concerns heightened. Several other countries, including India, China, Germany and Canada have followed suit, according to AFP.
Meanwhile, Germany and Italy announced the complete withdrawal of its forces from the country in late June.
The US’ pullout remains ongoing, however 650 troops will remain in the country to protect Kabul’s airport and Washington’s embassy.
Around 100 British troops will also remain in Afghanistan to support the American consulate.