Taliban offers peace deal, but wants Afghan President removed 

In a recent interview, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the group is ready to lay down arms after a negotiated government acceptable to all sides of the conflict is installed in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed.

Shaheen, who is also a member of the group’s negotiating team, gave interview to The Associated Press news agency. The spokesman said, “I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments, who (sought) to monopolise power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments.”  

He also apparently included the Taliban’s own five-year rule in the assessment, and added, “So, we do not want to repeat that same formula.” He laid out the group’s stance on what should come next in the war-torn country. 

Meanwhile, after reeling from a surge in battlefield losses, Afghanistan’s military is overhauling its war strategy against the Taliban to concentrate forces around the most critical areas like Kabul and other cities, border crossings and vital infrastructure, Afghan and US officials say. 

The politically perilous strategy will inevitably cede territory to Taliban insurgents. But officials say it appears to be a military necessity as over-stretched Afghan troops try to prevent the loss of provincial capitals, which could deeply fracture the country. 

The consolidation of forces, which has been publicly acknowledged but not reported in such detail before, coincides with the US military withdrawal ahead of a formal end to the military mission on August 31, on orders from President Joe Biden. 

(With inputs from agencies)