“Pakistan can’t dictate us,
impose restrictions”;
Taliban spokesman

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KABUL: Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan spokesperson Suhail Shaheen has said that Pakistan is welcome to help the Taliban arrive at a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan but it “cannot dictate to us or impose its views on us”.

These remarks by the Afghan leader appeared on a private TV channel’s show, on Sunday.

Shaheen, when questioned about how he views the Afghan Taliban’s relations with Pakistan to be, especially in the context of reports that the Taliban are not willing to listen to Pakistan, the spokesperson said: “We want brotherly relations. They are neighbours, a muslim country, and we have shared values — historical, religious and cultural.”

From left, Mohammad Naim, Mawlawi Shahabuddin Dilawar and Suhil Shaheen, members of a political delegation from the Afghan Taliban’s Movement, attend a news conference in Mosque on Friday on July,9, 2021.

He further added that “They can help us in the peace process but cant dictate to us or impose their views. And this is against international principles.”

While referring to the Taliban’s demand for an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Shaheen said that having an emirate is “a legitimate right of the people of Afghanistan”.

“We say nothing about other governments. They should not impose their view,” he said, reiterating: “This is not in accordance with international principles either.”

85 per cent control

The Taliban claimed on Friday that they now control 85% of Afghanistan’s territory amid a surge in wins on the ground and as American troops complete their pullout from the war-battered country.

The announcement came at a press conference at the end of a visit by a senior Taliban delegation to Moscow this week — a trip meant to offer assurances that the insurgents’ quick gains in Afghanistan do not threaten Russia or its allies in Central Asia.

The claim, which is impossible to verify, was considerably higher than previous Taliban statements that more than a third of the country’s 421 districts and district centers were in their control. There was no immediate response from the government in Kabul on the latest claim.

Earlier this week, Taliban advances forced hundreds of Afghan soldiers to flee across the border into Tajikistan, which hosts a Russian military base. Tajikistan in turn called up 20,000 military reservists to strengthen its southern border with Afghanistan. Russian officials have expressed concern that the Taliban surge could destabilize the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations north of Afghanistan.

Afghan expert

According to a prominent Afghan expert, the Taliban would not engage in a dialogue with Ashraf Ghani’s government as long as the Pakistani military and intelligence continue to give sanctuary to terrorists.

Afghan spokesman Suhail Shaheen

In an interview with German’s DW, Ahmed Rashid, a journalist and best-selling foreign policy author of several books about Afghanistan, said that the chaotic situation in Afghanistan “can suck in the neighbouring countries.” “If that happens, that will be the end of Afghanistan,” he said.

“Why should they when their leaders and their families are safe? If Pakistan wants to show its sincerity, it needs to immediately force the Taliban leaders to either compromise or leave their sanctuaries in Quetta or in Peshawar,” Rashid said.

On Saturday, Afghan President Ghani said he sees the Taliban responsible for the ongoing violence in the country in which at least 200 to 600 people are killed every day.

“The Taliban is responsible for the continuation of the war,” Ghani said, as quoted by TOLOnews. “Taliban should be asked whom they are fighting for? Who will benefit if Afghanistan is ruined and if Afghans are killed?”

Violence in Afghanistan

Violence in Afghanistan could intensify drug trafficking and the problem of narcotics in Pakistan, an anti-narcotics official told NIKKEI Asia. Akbar Durrani, federal secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Narcotics Control said: “If there is no political stability in Afghanistan, it might aggravate the problems which we are experiencing already.” He added that Afghanistan is one of the major narcotics challenges for Pakistan.The security situation in Afghanistan has weakened as the US troops have almost left. The Taliban are capturing more and more areas.

Pakistan has always been a centre of trade in Afghan-produced drugs but the increasing violence in Afghanistan has boosted the trade. The situation was under control before the US troops entered the country two decades ago but the drug trade is likely to grow in the situation of political vacuum. Drug traffickers thrive amid lawlessness and economic devastation, and the pandemic has made conditions even riper for them, NIKKEI Asia reported.

Afghan Taliban at one of their place

“As a result of the economic downturn triggered by the pandemic, fragile communities in areas of illicit cultivation of drugs are now increasingly vulnerable, especially in Afghanistan, where the appeal of illicit crop cultivation of opium poppy is likely to rise,” a United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime report said.

Afghanistan is currently the world’s top opium producer. In 2020 it accounted for 85 per cent of global production and the area under poppy cultivation expanded by 37 per cent to the third-highest level ever recorded, the UN report said further.

Pakistan is one of the highest drug-consuming nations in Southwest Asia, the country now has nine million drug addicts compared to seven Million reported in 2015.

Durrani told Nikkei Asia that crystal meth in Pakistan is usually imported from faraway countries such as Mexico and Australia. But Afghanistan is now emerging as a producer of the drug, too. Afghan cooks are able to produce inexpensive crystalline methamphetamine using a native plant, ephedra, which is much cheaper than importing chemical ingredients.

Drug abuse is taking a heavy toll on the youth in Pakistan, especially students, and fuelling a life of addiction and crime.

The country’s Anti-Narcotics force has said that children as young as 9-12 have already started consuming tobacco and some as young as 13 and 14 are said to be turning to drugs.  (ANI)