Urdu Daily: 'Haqqani Network Wants To Forcibly Occupy Afghanistan, Including Kabul'

November 10, 2020

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Roznama Ummat, a leading Urdu-language daily considered close to the Afghan Taliban, has published, in view of the U.S. presidential election, a report titled "Haqqani Network Wants To Occupy Kabul."[1] The report included subtitles that read: "The Taliban's Hardline Faction [Haqqani Network Is] Not In Favor Of Talks"; "Speed In The Afghan Ministers' And Parliamentarians' Contacts With The Taliban Despite The Government Ban [On Such Contacts]"; "Whoever Wins In America, It Will Not Have Impact On The Taliban – Haqqani Network."

The article in Roznama Ummat.

The report was published in the daily's November 6 issue. This was before U.S. television networks declared then Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to be the winner in the election, but after it was clear that U.S. President Donald Trump was set to lose his re-election bid. Under President Trump, the U.S. signed a peace deal with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban organization) in Doha on February 29, 2020, paving the way for the U.S. exit from Afghanistan.[2] The U.S. inked the deal despite the Taliban not having agreed to a ceasefire, resulting in ongoing fighting that has threatened the democratically elected government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.[3]

The U.S.-Taliban deal, to which the Afghan government was not a party, envisaged an intra-Afghan talks process that would give the Taliban a share in power in Kabul. However, despite the two sides having met in Doha, the intra-Afghan talks got quickly into a deadlock after the Taliban set a non-negotiable demand for "a pure Islamic government" in Afghanistan.[4] The Ghani government also supported an Islamic government but sought to ensure the protection of women's rights and minorities such as Shi'ite Muslims.[5]

The Roznama Ummat report mentions the Taliban's Haqqani Network in particular, whose commanders, according to a UN Security Council report, continued to meet with Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri and others in Al-Qaeda even as the Taliban leaders were in the process of signing the Doha peace deal in February 2020.[6] Top American military officials have accused the Haqqani Network of bombing the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan in the past.[7]

Following are excerpts from the Roznama Ummat report:

"While the Ashraf Ghani camp is jubilant over the U.S. presidential election results [favouring the victory of Joe Biden], the Haqqani Network wants to occupy Kabul. The Taliban's hardline faction too considers the intra-Afghan talks as tantamount to wasting time...

"After the attacks on the Kausar Center of Kabul and the Kabul University [on November 2], Afghan President Dr. Ashraf Ghani has imposed a ban on ministers, advisors, and his colleagues contacting the Taliban, and has said that ministers and advisors will be sacked for such contacts without permission. But, [Roznama] Ummat has learnt that some ministers and advisors are continually in contact with the Taliban so as to find a position in the future government [which will include the Taliban]...

"Members of the Afghan parliament too are in continual contact with the representatives of the Taliban present in Qatar; they are engaged in consultations with the Taliban regarding the future. Among them are members [of parliament] from northern Afghanistan, and eastern and southern Afghanistan. The majority of the members from the eastern Afghanistan are in contact with Anas Haqqani, the brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of the Haqqani Network. And not only their contacts have gained momentum, but also the Haqqani Network has a soft corner for these members [of Afghan parliament].

"On the other side, after the results of the vote in America, Dr. Ashraf Ghani and his camp are extremely happy. Sources present in Kabul said that Dr. Ashraf Ghani and his camp are of the view that after Joe Biden's victory the American agreement with the Taliban will come to end. However, sources say that the deal will not end, but there is probability of [U.S.] pressure increasing against the Taliban.

"In the present scenario, the Afghan Taliban's Kandahar faction is perturbed because the failure and success of the intra-Afghan talks in Qatar is conditional upon the implementation of the American deal [signed in Doha on February 29, 2020] and withdrawal of U.S. troops. It is also certain that after the formation of the Joe Biden government, Zalmay Khalilzad will be removed [as the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation]...

"Sources connected with the Haqqani Network say that the Haqqani Network is happy with Joe Biden's victory because the Haqqani Network wants to forcibly occupy Afghanistan, including Kabul. The Haqqani Network wants that it gain control of Afghanistan so that in such a situation the Taliban can force their demands to be accepted [at the intra-Afghan talks].

"The stand of the Afghan Taliban's hardline faction is that an attempt is being made to defeat them at the table despite 18 years of struggle [i.e., the Taliban's war against the U.S. since 2001]. The U.S. military's withdrawal from Afghanistan will definitely happen because the American military is not ready for more fighting, and nor will a new president be ready for it. Therefore, whoever becomes U.S. president will not have impact on the Taliban.

"According to the sources in the Haqqani Network, the Afghan government does not need to be jubilant over whether Joe Biden's victory will lead to the Afghan Taliban's defeat in Afghanistan or Afghan Taliban will not fight. Rather, the Afghan government's difficulties will increase with Joe Biden's victory. Not only do the Afghan Taliban have control over most of Afghanistan, but the American armed forces also know that it is difficult for them to continue the fighting in Afghanistan further..."


[1] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), November 6, 2020.

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