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Thursday December 02, 2021

Geo News Report Card: Taliban unwilling to be part of democratic set-up, says Safi

July 13, 2021
Geo News Report Card: Taliban unwilling to be part of democratic set-up, says Safi

LAHORE: Ruling out democracy in Afghanistan, senior journalist and anchorperson Saleem Safi said Monday the Pak military leadership, the ISI and our special envoy for Afghanistan did their best to convince Taliban to be part of a democratic system over the past year.

Speaking in Geo News programme Report Card, Safi wondered that if Taliban could not be convinced then despite our state’s best efforts, how would they listen to us now when they were emerging victor. He said that over the past year, our military leadership, the ISI, our special envoy held dozens of meetings with Taliban, involving religious scholars as well as employing pressure, but Taliban were unmoved, Safi added.

When asked why he was pessimistic about possibility of democracy in Afghanistan, Safi said the statements our ministers were making made no sense for they know little about the ground situation of that country. It was easy to praise and tell tales about Taliban system while sitting Islamabad Club or Lahore Gymkhana

Safi maintained: “We have seen the rule of Taliban, know them in and out… Whatever will be will be, but a policy shift in three or four days would gag these ministers.”

When programme host, Alina Shaikh, asked Safi did these minister mean Taliban were reformed now, Safi said the “software” of many ministers and defence analysts would be updated according to new circumstances, and the new policy shift in Pakistan would open their eyes.

He said: “Taliban are not duplicitous like us. They would choose for Pakistan the same system as they would for themselves.”

Explaining the ground situation, Safi revealed that a couple of days back, a former Taliban commander kidnapped five people, and beheaded one of them, and so (that shows) what is going to happen.

Secondly, Safi added, the Afghan government representatives and Taliban were had been negotiating in Qatar for a year. He said Taliban demanded restoration of their emirate as it was. Safi said talks could not move ahead as Taliban offered the Afghan government a share in their emirate, while the Afghan government asked them to be part of their constitutional government.

When the Taliban emerge as victors, how would they accommodate others (in their setup), Safi added.

Citing his interview the Taliban spokesman, Safi said democracy has no place in the system of Taliban, given their clarity in definition of Islamic emirates and all what we have heard and seen. One may fool oneself, but there would either Taliba’s system or democracy, Safi added.

About the possible policy shift, Safi said the change had already taken place to a greater extent. Contrary to the past narrative — Taliban and TTP are unlinked — the parliamentarians were told in the other day’s briefing that both are the same. “Now if Taliban gain supremacy there, won’t they gain ground here?” Safi added.

Safi said: “Indeed, the Taliban might have changed socially in certain contexts. They arrested me in 1999 for carrying a video camera. Today, video cameras are a big instrument of their propaganda. This is social evolution, not change in perspective. Everyone has to change with TV and mobile phones. But Taliban’s political thought is the same as it was. They want Islamic emirates restored. There is no mutation in their concept about apostasy, Jihad, Qital and borders.”

While analysts Hasan Nisar and Reema Omer endorsed Safi’s views, Hafeezullah Niazi was optimistic about the possibility of Taliban being realistic from a geo-political perspective.

Hasan Nisar said when democracy could not flourish in Pakistan, how could it in Afghanistan.

Reema said Taliban (system) did not fit the criterion set by the Afghan constitution — rule through vote. There was nothing democratic in what the Taliban were doing in Afghanistan, she added. Niazi said the Taliban had secured their ground through a bloody war, and they know how to go about running their system given their past experience.

He said, citing a Taliban spokesman, they would not go beyond Quran and Sunnah. “I think our understanding is flawed,” Niazi added.