In an Eid message attributed to Mullah Omar, the reclusive Taliban leader purportedly voiced his approval for the “legitimate” peace talks between the militant group and the Afghan government. Negotiations between Taliban and the Ashraf Ghani-led government, which began earlier this month, are set to resume after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan ends.
“If we look into our religious regulations, we can find that meetings and even peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited,” Omar, who hasn’t been seen in public for over a decade, wrote, in the statement. “Therefore the objective behind our political endeavors as well as contacts and interactions with countries of the world and our own Afghans is to bring an end to the occupation and to establish an independent Islamic system in our country.”
Earlier this month, Pakistan mediated a meeting between the Taliban and members of the Afghan high peace council, in a step toward ending more than 13 years of violent conflict in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been attempting to reassert control over the territories it lost when its government was toppled during a U.S.-led military intervention in 2001. Before the talks, the Taliban had sought to disrupt last year's presidential elections, with a series of violent attacks in the country.
Although Omar did not directly mention the peace talks in the statement, he said that it is the Taliban’s “legitimate right to utilize all legal pathways” to achieve its goal.
“All Mujahidin and countrymen should be confident that in this process, I will unwaveringly defend our legal rights and viewpoint everywhere,” Omar wrote, in what can be perceived as a seal of approval for the ongoing peace process in the war-torn nation.
In the statement, Omar also sought to reaffirm the importance of maintaining the “unity of Jihadi front” in the country, where the Islamic State group has been attempting to make inroads in recent months, and reports of defections from within the Taliban’s ranks have emerged.
“Since maintaining the unity of Jihadi front in our country is a religious obligation, we have therefore directed all our Mujahidin to preserve their unity and forcefully prevent all those elements who attempt to create differences, damage this Jihadi front or try to disperse the Mujahidin,” Omar wrote, in an indirect reference to ISIS. “The fruits of successful Jihad against the former Soviet Union were lost as an inevitable consequence of the multiplicity of factions.”