All three representatives in this group are high- level military commanders with field experience and religious training.
Origins and objectives
Representative A: I am a madrasa graduate at Mufti level. I was a member of the first Taliban and I am a member of the current Taliban movement. For two years I was in charge of the Taliban’s foreign affairs, so in charge of the foreign fighters. I was also in charge of the charity collections commission. I had good relationships with businessmen in other countries who donated to this cause.
We were taking care of the needy families of the [Taliban] mujahidin. My influence in the community grew this way. But as the northern Taliban started to be excluded from the current Taliban councils [the Quetta and Peshawar Shuras] I have been fighting for the rights of the northern Taliban. These channels for influence have been getting smaller and smaller and so that is why I have been considering involvement in peace initiatives. Grassroots influence exists. If the government stands by its word, I am confident we can achieve our goals.
Relationship with the ‘main Taliban’
Representatives A, B and C: We have been marginalised by the main Taliban. We were a part of the founding of the original movement and we have suffered a lot for this movement. But now only a small group of Zadranis and Kandaharis control the movement. If a war continues for more than 10 years then either side’s chances of winning diminish and it becomes something other than a war. We will not be able to provide services for people. Because of this and the marginalisation from power we are not able to solve people’s problems.
The Quetta and Peshawar Shuras only appoint Kandaharis and Zadranis as leaders, even in our area, and not us, so we don’t have the power in our area to serve people. These other leaders control us. There are a couple of senior ranking [members of our ethnic group] in the Peshawar Shura but even they don’t have authority there. We do not even have a shadow governor [from our ethnic group].
Main blockages to ending violence in Afghanistan and how these might be overcome
Representative A: The main blockage is foreign occupation which violates the rights of Afghans. Unlawful killings, imprisonments, murders of people under the name of Taliban. Defamation of the Holy Qur'an. Not observing the religious values of our people. Widespread corruption within the government, the mafia, the patronage system. The government does not meet the actual demands of the people.
We feel the responsibility on our shoulders to remove these obstacles. Foreigners come and go. The actual victims are the Afghans. That is why we have started a process of helping our own people and separating ourselves from the Taliban movement, to work responsibly to end this killing. We are ready to do our part.
Political vision for Afghanistan
Representative A: At the moment I see the situation as very critical. Not only war between the government and the Taliban but war within the government itself. We wish for honest foreign support for a clean, just and inclusive future government which can open its heart and can go to the Taliban with an open heart. Foreigners must stop their interference.
We believe in a just and transparent election where every vote counts – all members’ votes count. And such a democratic government could get elders speaking to the Taliban. We support an election if the government is representative of all the people.
Representative B: The main problem is the lack of culture – lack of religious culture and secular culture. If someone is well-cultured they do not kill people. Westerners could have invested in improving our culture but they did not. If someone has religious or secular culture they can solve their problems through logic. Before I did my studies I was a hardliner. But as I started to learn about different perspectives and points of view I understood the real meaning of religion. We need religion and culture. Religion alone may not be able to solve our problems. A terrorist is a hardliner who does not use logic or thinking to solve differences.
Before, our people were not represented, we didn’t have a ‘listening ear’. But then we connected with [this initiative towards talks] and we were able to express our lack of representation. This was a way that we could start to represent our community.
Implications of early talks and a possible agreement between the government and the Taliban caucuses
Representative B: Assuming that an agreement happens, we would reduce the threat level towards the Afghan government – eg towards police and the National Directorate of Security, etc – in [the six north and north- eastern provinces in which we have influence]. This is a real process. We will be able to deliver real results, we are not faking them. We wouldn’t have bothered to come here if we couldn’t deliver.
Representative C: My political vision is that the conflict stops, that slowly, slowly the fighting comes to an end. That a government is created that is Islamic with a popular base, that it is inclusive and participatory, including all ethnic groups.
Relationships between leaders and people in my area are close but we want to make them closer. There have been some issues between leaders and their people, and this is the case with Taliban and non-Taliban leaders. Through our involvement with the peace process we will invite people to participate, and we will try to solidify some of the fractures in the community. We want to make relations closer. We also want the participation of our community in the political process, in elections, government and parliament, inclusion in structures such as ministries, in military and political decision-making.
The process is not over. We are not sure of the outcome yet. The result will become clear at some point, and then there is the question of whether it is implemented.
Recently there has been a de-escalation of violence in the Taliban movement and this has led to high expectations about peace from my people. We are hoping to emerge on the political scene as an organised group. These meetings have helped us to develop in this way.