KARACHI - A Taliban spokesperson has said unequivocally that reconciliation dialogue cannot be held unless the United States abandons its "dual-faced policies" on Afghanistan.
"On the one hand, it talks about pursuing peace dialogue but on the other it's seeking to establish permanent military bases in Afghanistan," The Express Tribune quoted Zabiullah Mujahid, as saying in a telephone interview from somewhere in Afghanistan.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman, however, said that the US does not seek any permanent military bases in Afghanistan or a presence that would be a threat to any of Afghanistan's neighbors, according to the report.
Mujahid also said that the US is seeking Pakistan's help to negotiate with the Taliban, but, at the same time, it is pressuring Islamabad to fight the Haqqani network in North Waziristan.
"Unless the US shows its commitment to peace talks, dialogue is not possible," he added.
When asked whether the Taliban can show some flexibility for the greater good of their war-ravaged country, Mujahid
aid, "Ours is a just struggle. We didn't invade America. It's the United States that waged a war in Afghanistan. We demand freedom… We're not calling for something illegal."
Earlier this week, the Hizb-e-Islami, led by former warlord Gulbudin Hekmatyar, had showed its willingness for peace talks with the United States. "We are willing to have a direct or indirect political dialogue with Washington," Dr Ghairat Baheer, a Hizb-e-Islami leader, had said in an interview.
When asked about this, Mujahid said he could not comment because Hizb-e-Islami was a separate organization.
The Haqqani network has already turned down an "individual" rapprochement offer from Washington, saying that it should instead engage the Taliban Shura in dialogue because the Haqqanis are a part of the Taliban movement led by Mullah Omar.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a congressional committee that any Afghan-led peace process would have to include the Quetta Shura and its leader Mullah Omar.
"There is no solution in the region without Pakistan and no stable future without a partnership," Secretary Clinton told the panel.
But the Taliban spokesperson cited contradictions in the US policy about Pakistan, saying, "The irony is that while the United States acknowledges Pakistan's contributions (in the fight against militancy) it also criticizes it (for being hand in glove with the militants)." (ANI)