Taliban not honouring peace pact: US

The Taliban are not honouring the peace pact they signed with America in February, says the US permanent representative to NATO.

“Well, first of all, we never thought this peace process would be easy, and clearly it has not been,” Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison told an online news conference in Brussels.

She acknowledged violence was too high and the Afghan people and soldiers had paid a heavy price. The US was asking the Taliban if they were serious about wanting to have a peaceful Afghanistan, she added.

The insurgents were also being asked if they would keep their word, stop the violence and agree to a ceasefire, the ambassador continued.

Answering such queries should be easy enough when the Taliban remained at the negotiating table about peace, the diplomat believed.

“However, I do want to say, if you look at the alternative – should we ask everyone to walk away from the peace table?

“No, we shouldn’t, because that is the one hope that we have that we will be able to bring the parties together for the sake of all of the improvements that we have seen in the lives of Afghan people, and also to make sure that terrorists are not allowed to grow and prosper and foment in Afghanistan and be exported to any of our allies or partners.”

He made the remarks while answering a query from an Afghan woman journalist, who said she had been flogged by the Taliban.

Hutchison said: “We all know there were terrible stories of the treatment of women by the Taliban before NATO and America came in.”

She believed that could not hold – “that you must have equal rights of women, education for girls, to have a lasting peace.”

They were going to push for that, most certainly, the ambassador promised. She said there was a good reason to hope that in 20 years there had been a change.

“But we are not going to see a lasting peace if we don’t stay at the negotiating table, try to bring the warring factors together to let the Afghan people have the lives that they deserve – in freedom, with education, with a community capability to have businesses that flourish.

“All of these things are dependent on that peace agreement working, and that is what we are hoping for and we hope very much that the Taliban have grown in 20 years…”