Dostum Calls for Taliban to End Violence, Focus on Peace

Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, former vice president and head of the Islamic National Movement of Afghanistan–Junbish-e-Milli–in an address to a gathering in his home province of Jawzjan on Thursday, said the Taliban must stop violence and should bow to the people’s demand for a lasting ceasefire.

“We are Muslims. We should not fight against each other. If we want to fight, we should fight united against those countries that have an eye on our soil,” Dostum said.

In Balkh province, meanwhile, Atta Mohammad Noor, the head of the splinter faction of the Jamiat-e-Islami party, in an address to the residents of the northern province made a similar statement to the Taliban and warned the group that “it would be suppressed” if the opportunity for peace was lost.

“If a real mobilization was made, I am saying here among thousands of people that I promise to take over 50% of areas controlled by Taliban in a blink if there is war– but I pray that there is no more war,” Noor said.

But another former mujahedeen leader, Juma Khan Hamdard, who is head of the council of the Hizb-e-Islami party, said differences among the country’s political leaders and the “monopolization” of peace affairs by the Presidential Palace have prolonged the stalled peace negotiations with the Taliban.

“The peace negotiations have stalled for the last six months. It is delayed from one day to another day. We have many plans (for peace). We would have achieved peace in two months if we came together around the government and if we had a unified plan,” Hamdard said.

This comes as the US and coalition forces have begun withdrawing from Afghanistan and a much-expected conference on Afghanistan in Turkey has been delayed multiple times over non-participation by the Taliban. Meanwhile, violence has also remained high in the country, especially during Ramadan – April 13 to May 13 – during which the Ministry of Interior Affairs said that more than 250 civilians were killed in Taliban violence across the country.