In an e-mail response to questions from CNN, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied previous reports that the Taliban had been invited to meet with the Karzai government in Saudi Arabia, saying that talks with what he called a “puppet” government would be pointless.
The following is the e-mail interview conducted by CNN:
CNN: Is it possible for the Taliban to renounce international terrorism in one of its written statements as per the American demand?
Zabihullah Mujahid: All praise is due to Allah and may his peace and blessings be upon his chosen servant.
To proceed, I must first and foremost say that we do not work according to the guidelines of America or any other country but all of our decisions are based on Islamic principles while giving consideration to our national interests however based on mutual respect, we do believe in reaching an understanding with all the countries of the world.
Now, regarding the issue of terrorism:
If America and its allies consider the current Jihad and struggle in Afghanistan against the eradication of the occupation and its continuation until all foreign troops leave and an Islamic government is established as terrorism, then we cannot shun this as it would be an un-Islamic act because we consider this Jihad and struggle as our Islamic obligation, the shunning of which is not possible in any circumstance. However, as we continue with this obligation (Jihad and struggle) we are religiously held responsible in preventing civilian casualties.
CNN: Do you have delegates based in Qatar at the moment who are engaged in talks with America? If you don’t, do you have plans to send delegations in the near future?
ZM: A representative of Islamic Emirate has held meetings with American delegates in Qatar regarding confidence building measures. As for when we will send or not send delegations to Qatar, then it all depends on when we reach the negotiation stage. Up until now, this has not officially occurred and naturally, as we reach the negotiation stage, a delegation or a team of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be chosen and sent to Qatar.
CNN: Have you yet been asked to meet with the Karzai administration in Saudi Arabia? If not, will you accept to meet with them in Saudi Arabia if requested?
ZM: Before I answer your question I firstly must say that in order to reach an understanding with America, Qatar was chosen as an intermediary nation by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. This was our own choice and not on due part to the behest or pressure of another nation, a selection which America also accepted.
In regards to Saudi Arabia, no one has put forward such a request to us and even if such a thing was requested, our answer will be that the government of Karzai is not independent and meeting with it will not benefit in any way in solving the problem.
CNN: Do you believe that the active lower level Taliban will accept you accord if you were to reach a positive outcome with America in Qatar?
ZM: In our system, no consideration is given to the issue of high rank or low rank but rather the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan works as a cohesive administration. All of its offices, its officials and members work for a mutual goal under the leadership of the Commander of the Faithful. The current talks or future negotiations all take place with the permission and guidance of the Amir and all agreements which all done with the consent of the Amir in the light of Islamic principles and national interests are happily accepted by all and they who work earnestly to implement them.
CNN: Do you think talking with the Karzai administration will be beneficial or do you want to directly talk with the Americans?
ZM: I must say that Karzai, Kabul administration, Afghans and the Americans or Washington is not concerned here as some people say, as a form of protest, that the Taliban only want to talk with the Americans instead of their own Afghans. In reality, the concern is of one exercising power and one with no power. It is well known to the Afghan people as well as the world that the real power holder fighting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan is America. It has used Karzai and his administration as an instrument to maintain its grip and continue its occupation.
CNN: If those Taliban that are being held in Guantanamo are not released, will your negotiations with the Americans still continue?
ZM: Negotiations have not yet began with the Americans so talking about it continuing does not mean much. Now the question is, when will negotiations begin? I must say that before any negotiations can take place, confidence building measures must first succeed so an atmosphere can be created for negotiations and this confidence building measure rests entirely with the Americans and they must take steps for it which are; exchange of Guantanamo prisoners, the opening of a political office and the termination of the black list of the United Nations as well as the bounty lists of America and her allies.
Source: CNN via al-Emara – Official website of the Taliban Resistance Movement