‘Pakistani intelligence behind rise of Taliban leaders’

Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour is seen in this undated handout photograph by the Taliban © Taliban Handout
None of these so-called Taliban leaders are in control of anything, said Prince Ali Seraj, National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan, while Brian Becker, director of Antiwar Answer Coalition, said killing Taliban will not bring peace.

The leader of the Afghan Taliban, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, was likely killed in a US airstrike, according to Pentagon officials. A US drone strike was carried out on Saturday morning in a remote area of Pakistan, near the Afghan border.

RT: US defense officials have said it is "likely" that Taliban leader was killed. How credible is this claim?

Prince Ali Seraj: It’s not credible. We never know until we know. I was told a drone attack was made on him in the northwestern part of Pakistan, and he was reportedly in a car together with a group of his people. But nobody has been able to confirm it. I don’t know why the media makes such a big thing of this man. None of these people are in control of anything. It’s the Pakistanis who are pushing the buttons. They kept Mullah Mohammed Omar alive for two years, and they kept issuing statements from him even when he was dead. When it was revealed that he was dead they immediately replaced him with this man, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who immediately went on a week of suicide bombings in Afghanistan so that his position could be certified. And if he goes, the Pakistanis will replace him with somebody else.

So there is no big deal. Who are this Taliban? What Taliban are we talking about? The Chechens? The Saudis? The Uzbeks? The Arabs? There is no particular person who is in charge of all the so-called Taliban in Afghanistan. These people are being supported by Pakistan, have been supported by the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and these so-called leaders are just pawns for the benefit of the war, so that they can take more money from the US.

RT: The US had said Mansour was an obstacle to peace talks with the Afghan government. If he's now dead, could that actually galvanize the negotiations?

PAS: So Pakistan is sitting on the sidelines waiting for the Taliban to succeed. And until that time they are going to play this game on-again, off-again…

The US has to understand that this is a game and they are being played with, and we’re being played with, and thousands of our people are getting killed. For God sake, when is it going to stop? When is the world going to pay attention that Afghanistan is ground zero, and unless ground zero is taken care of nothing is going to happen and no peace is going to come, not only in Central Asia, but also in the Middle East.

RT: How strong is the Afghan government's negotiating position in the talks?

PAS: Negotiation with whom? The government of Afghanistan has opened the door to Pakistan and said: “Ok, let’s sit down!” Negotiation has to be done between the Afghan government and Pakistan government, not between the Afghan government and the so-called Taliban. Who are the Taliban? They are a bunch of ragtag murderers, homeless, religionless; they are coming under the flag of Islam and killing thousands of our people. You don’t negotiate with murderers; you don’t negotiate with terrorists. If Pakistan is serious about negotiations, let them come to the table.

'Washington opting for endless war in Afghanistan'

Killing of the Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour doesn't make sense, as when he took over the position two years ago he claimed he was opened to peaceful negotiations, Brian Becker, radio host and director of Antiwar Answer Coalition, told RT.

RT: US defense officials have said it is "likely" that Taliban leader was killed. How credible is this claim?

Brian Becker: Well, it is certainly possible. These are early reports. There are unnamed Pentagon officials talking to the US media. So let’s presumably give them the benefit of the doubt and say they think they have in fact killed the Taliban leader. The question is: ‘What is the point? What is the military point?’ Afghanistan right now 15 years after the start of the US invasion in October 2001 – more of Afghanistan today is under the control of the Taliban than it was then, in 2001.

Targeting, killing of the leaders of the Taliban, that is not going bring an end to the war. They will be replaced by another leader. It seems to me that the US by arrogating to itself the decision who lives and who dies within Afghanistan or amongst the Taliban leadership, in fact is snuffing out any prospects for a peaceful negotiated settlement. This new leader of the Taliban who took over two year ago has said when he came into the position that he was opened to negotiations. Instead the US opts for the option of targeted killing. It doesn’t make much sense to me militarily.

RT: The previous leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was killed. It took the Taliban two years to acknowledge that he was dead. They later admitted the covered up that situation. Isn’t there a good chance they could be doing the same thing again?

BB: Certainly. From a military point of view it will be their call whether to recognize the fact that the leader of the Taliban Mansour was in fact killed by a US drone strike. But it also may not be true. A year ago the US said they thought they killed him and it turned out not to be the case. I want to emphasize that the most important issue is not whether he’s alive or dead, but that President [Barack] Obama authorized the targeted killing again of the Taliban leadership. The US has sent thousands more troops in Afghanistan. Where does that all end? Is the US goal really endless war in Afghanistan, or to find a peaceful negotiated settlement? It seems to me that it means that they are opting for endless war in Afghanistan – something the American people don’t support.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.