Taliban demand new constitution for Afghanistan

Taliban demand new constitution for Afghanistan

Afghan former president Hamid Karzai (R) and Head of Political Office of the Taliban Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai pictured before the conference arranged by the Afghan diaspora, in Moscow, Russia, February 5, 2019.

Moscow had chose to snub Afghan government officials, sources said, to ensure the participation of the Taliban who refuse to hold talks with representatives of Western-backed President Ashraf Ghani, branding them puppets of the United States.

The Taliban official who has led the group's peace negotiations with the United States has told the BBC the insurgents do not want to seize "the whole country by [military] power". He also said the Constitution was a major obstacle to peace.

The Russian foreign minister was directly referring to last months' six-day negotiations US reconciliation envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held with Taliban officials in Qatar.

Members of the Taliban and high-ranking Afghan politicians opposed to President Ashraf Ghani outlined their future visions for the country in Moscow on Tuesday.

Taliban fighters stormed an army post in northern Kunduz province early Tuesday, setting off a clash that killed more than two dozen people - a lot of them soldiers, Afghan officials said.

No representatives from the Kabul government were invited to Moscow but some of Ghani's chief rivals - including Karzai as well as opponents in an election slated for July - were in attendance.

Ghani's government has so far been shut out of the evolving peace talks between Taliban negotiators and US envoys to end more than 17 years of war, with the hardline Islamist movement branding his government as a USA puppet.

US officials say any withdrawal is contingent on a ceasefire - something the Taliban insists on happening first - and that the movement must be prepared to enter talks with the Afghan government to help create a durable peace.

The Afghan Women's Network said their rights should not be used as a "political tool" in dealings with the Taliban, who barred women from schools and jobs and drastically curtailed their personal liberties when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

They also promised to stamp out Afghanistan's poppy cultivation and take steps to prevent civilian casualties in a conflict that has killed and wounded hundreds of thousands.

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Afghan women, also largely excluded from the table, fear seeing their hard-won rights eroded if negotiators seek a hasty truce with the Taliban. "If the Taliban would like to be a part of Afghan society, they need to adapt", Koofi told the Associated Press. "So therefore I hope that they listen to the people of Afghanistan", she said.

In the meantime, a member of the provincial has said that the attack left 11 Afghan Local Police personnel dead including one of their commanders.

"We have come a very long way and we don't want to go back". But involvement of the Taliban in any government frightens many women, who recall the stifling restrictions under the Islamic insurgents.

He said the movement wanted to explain its policies towards an "enduring peace in the homeland and establishment of an intra-Afghan Islamic system of governance".

Russian Federation has "proven that they don't support a single side of the conflict in Afghanistan", said Ghulam Jalal, an organizer from the diaspora center.

But images of Karzai and other powerful leaders attending prayer lead by a Taliban figure and dining with the militants evoked anger in Afghanistan.

"If you guys can eat together, laugh and pray together, hug each other why you are still killing innocent Afghans?" one Facebook user posted. It comes a week after negotiations between the US and the Taliban in which both sides agreed to a draft framework for a deal which could open a path to peace talks, raising hopes that an end to the 18-year war could be closer.

Last month, Stanikzai met with United States envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, hoping to lay the groundwork for the eventual USA withdrawal after over 17 years of war.

US and Taliban negotiators are due to meet again in Qatar on February 25 to resume their discussions.

Ghani's office said that Afghan politicians attending the gathering were doing so "in order to gain power".

"[They] are ready to bypass these principles and move towards [the principles'] destruction due to differences and being away from power", Fazly said in a tweet.

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