Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal on Saturday said the Taliban have largely devolved into groups of criminals and terrorists but they must be brought into the peace process.
In an interview with VOA Deewa in Islamabad, Zakhilwal said, “Peace cannot be brokered under duress, but it needs good and positive intentions because there is no other way to resolve the conflict but to negotiate peace. The Taliban, ousted in a US-led military intervention in 2001, has been gaining territory in recent years through a violent insurgency to try to topple Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and re-establish a fundamentalist regime. Today, the country has made strides in catching up to the rest of the world, but conflict continues.
Heroin production in Taliban-controlled areas this year hit record highs, with the proceeds used to fuel the insurgency, leading to a new US offensive against drug labs. Other terror groups, like the Islamic State, have infiltrated the borders and taken up residence. However, Afghan leaders hope that some Taliban can be convinced to be pragmatic and act in the country’s best interest by renouncing terrorism.
“The Taliban today are not the Taliban of Mullah Omar because they had some religious commitments and certain values,” Zakhilwal said.