Mullah Omar says Taliban wants “inclusive government” in Afghanistan

"Waste of time"? In a recorded message released on Tuesday to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration that closes the holy month of Ramadan, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said that his fighters will not seek to monopolize power in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw next year, and that the ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

"Waste of time"?

In a recorded message released on Tuesday to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration that closes the holy month of Ramadan, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said that his fighters will not seek to monopolize power in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw next year, and that the group will work to create "an inclusive government based on Islamic principles" (BBC, Pajhwok).  Omar rejected the idea of dividing Afghanistan between different power players, but he also reiterated his belief that next year's presidential election is a "waste of time" (AFP, Reuters).  The Taliban have routinely encouraged Afghans not to take part in the electoral process, and have targeted political candidates and activists, as well as deployed fighters to block the roads to polling stations in the past. 

"Waste of time"?

In a recorded message released on Tuesday to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration that closes the holy month of Ramadan, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said that his fighters will not seek to monopolize power in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw next year, and that the group will work to create "an inclusive government based on Islamic principles" (BBC, Pajhwok).  Omar rejected the idea of dividing Afghanistan between different power players, but he also reiterated his belief that next year’s presidential election is a "waste of time" (AFP, Reuters).  The Taliban have routinely encouraged Afghans not to take part in the electoral process, and have targeted political candidates and activists, as well as deployed fighters to block the roads to polling stations in the past. 

Omar’s statement was released the same day as an Associated Press report that said members of the Afghan Taliban and the Karzai government have been secretly meeting in an effort to jumpstart the reconciliation process that has been on hold since the June opening of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar (AP).  The talks, which were confirmed by Afghan officials, have been occurring on an individual and informal basis, and are focused on creating the conditions for formal negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan High Peace Council.

One Afghan child died and two others were wounded in Jalalabad on Tuesday when a bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded in a busy square (Pajhwok).  While the vehicle was damaged, all of the officers inside escaped unhurt.  There have been no claims of responsibility for the attack, which comes just three days after nine people were killed in a botched assault on the Indian consulate in the city. 

Separatist killings

At least 13 people were killed in the Mach section of Balochistan’s Bolan district on Monday night when separatist gunmen held up several buses full of day laborers at a fake checkpoint (BBC, Dawn, ET, VOA).  According to multiple news sources, the checkpoint seemed to be targeting Punjab province-bound vehicles, and a total of 30 passengers were kidnapped.  Meerak Baloch, a spokesman for the separatist Baloch Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the killings.  A search is ongoing for the perpetrators and the missing victims.

Dr. Kashif Nabi, the Mach Assistant Commissioner, told reporters that passenger buses like the ones that were diverted at the checkpoint are normally escorted out of Balochistan by security personnel, but an attack on an oil tanker in another section of Bolan kept these forces engaged in a clash with insurgents (Pajhwok).  One security guard died in the ensuing firefight and another was injured.  There have been no claims of responsibility but Pakistani officials suspect it was a diversion by Baloch separatists (Dawn).

Pakistani security officials told reporters on Monday that they are investigating the possibility that al-Qaeda was involved in last week’s jailbreak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (AFP).  The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Dera Ismail Khan attack that freed nearly 250 prisoners and left 13 security officers and prisoners dead, but Interpol released a statement on Saturday saying they suspected al-Qaeda involvement in the Pakistan raid.  The Taliban and al-Qaeda have close ties and, as one Pakistani official said, "such attacks are always carried out with involvement of two type[s] of groups, one which plans and the other which executes." Bonus read: "Security under scrutiny: Post-mortem of the DI Khan jail attack," Sohail Tajik (ET). 

Five Indian soldiers were killed in the Poonch section of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday, during an ambush on a border post by militants wearing Pakistani military uniforms, according to A.K. Antony, India’s defense minister (ET, Reuters, VOA).  There have been no claims of responsibility but Pakistan has denied any involvement in the attack.  The assault comes as India and Pakistan have been edging closer to resuming peace talks. 

Toy guns don’t kill people

Peace activists in Pakistan are using the end of Ramadan to launch a campaign against toy guns, saying that they help breed a culture of violence among children and make it easier to them to "fall into the hands of extremists when they are teenagers" (Atlantic).  While gun control advocates in the United States have made similar arguments about toy guns and school shootings, the researchers around the world are divided about the relationship between childhood war games and grown-up violence.  

— Bailey Cahall 

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