‘US will have to talk to Taliban’
After ten years, the US is finally coming to the realization that they are going to have to actually talk to the Taliban, and accept the fact that it will have a large influence on the future of Afghanistan, journalist Assed Baig told RT.
RT: It appears the Taliban may be stepping up the violence to grab political power ahead of the NATO exit next year. Do you agree with that?
Assed Baig: I think we can see very clearly that we've
seen an increase in attacks. We've also seen a number of
defections taking place, just last month we saw former senator
Qazi Abdul Hai defect to the Taliban, he was a district governor
in the northern province of Sar-e-Pol. So we are seeing an
increase of action on both sides, but I think that the favor is
probably with the Taliban when the Americans leave, because they
are the ones who have control of large parts of the countryside
and we are seeing defections even from the police and the
military over the Taliban.
US policy of not engaging with the Taliban backfired
RT: This all started with the War on Terror,
specifically against the Taliban, it is a kick in the teeth for
America, isn’t it?
AB: Definitely the policy of not engaging and not going in
for talks with the Taliban has really backfired. Now they are
coming to realize only after 10 years that they are going to have
to actually talk to these people and maybe even accept the fact
that once they leave, the Taliban will have a large influence on
the government and the future of Afghanistan.
RT: Will there be any last minute olive branches put
forward, any last minute talks to try and make steps forward?
AB: I think there is stuff going on behind the scenes; for
example at the request of Karzai Pakistan released a second
command, one of the highest-ranking Taliban officials in a sense
to facilitate peace, but peace in Afghanistan cannot be done
without talking to the Taliban and without talking to Pakistan.
America is going to have to engage with these major players if it
wants peace in the region.
RT: We talked with a presidential candidate earlier in the program who told us that people would rather defect to the Taliban than support the corrupt government. Is that the general feeling?
Afghans looking at Taliban as source of stability
AB: I think if you speak to Afghans on the ground, what
they really want is security, and they currently don't have it.
The government does not have much credibility outside the major
cities. So people are already looking towards the Taliban as a
source of stability, not that they agree with the ideology or the
methodology, but what they actually want is security and to be
able to feel safe, not having to be searched or stopped and
searched by foreign troops or anyone insulting their culture. So
I think we will see more people looking at the Taliban, because
this is the only option they actually have.
RT: Of course the real war in Afghanistan is the
ongoing production of drugs. It's rife there. What happens when
NATO pulls out, what it's going to mean for drugs production?
AB: If you look at drugs production during the times of the Taliban, it actually decreased during the Taliban, because they actually cut it out and gave people alternatives, alternative farming to do and other means of income, but since the war on terror, drug production increased. Now I'm sitting in London and the majority of the heroin, actually 90% of it, is coming here from Afghanistan via Pakistan.
RT: What do you put that increase down to then?
AB: I think the lack of security, lack of governance and
the war on terror, so if you actually concentrate on killing
so-called militants, or the Taliban, then it creates a vacuum for
drug lords to come in. So when the Taliban reigned they actually
clamped down on drug lords and clamped down on opium production.
Now, since the West is gone and America and the UK targeted the
very people that were clamping down on the drug lords, the drug
lords resurface and continue their business, and actually they
are becoming very rich because of it, and some of them are in
RT: So another unfortunate consequence of NATO presence there. When Karzai leaves what about the future of Afghanistan and its foreign policy?
AB: I think Karzai has tried to play a game. He came in on
the back of Americans, but then he's also been critical as well
at times because he realizes his own reputation of American
stooge… that's what he's called anyway. I think that what's going
to happen is Washington's relationship with Afghanistan will be
dependent upon who's in power. But as we've been speaking about,
with the increasing influence and the strengthening of the
Taliban, I think Washington will have to start talking to the