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Who Are the Taliban?
The word “Taliban” is the plural form of the word “Talib” which is an Arabic word meaning “seeker”.  The word “Talib” or “Taliban” is used for anyone who seeks religious knowledge in a religious school mainly called “Madrassa” an Arabic word for a place where a person get education.   Indeed, “Taliban” means, students of religious schools.  Anyone, male or female who studies religious lessons in a religious school ( Madrassa) are called Taliban.  In fact, the word Taliban became political when groups of people from religious schools mainly in Pakistan were armed and sent to Afghanistan to fight and then got political power in Afghanistan whose regime was later toppled by international coalition formed against terrorism in late 2001.

Since 2001, the word “Taliban” was used for armed people trained, armed and brainwashed by certain circles in Pakistan to fight in Afghanistan against the elected Afghan Government and the international coalition led by the United States to counter terrorism in Afghanistan and the region.  These people (the Taliban) have been used to carry out the proxy war in Afghanistan and ensure the interests of others.  The Taliban have safe heavens beyond Durand Line and enjoy a great support from certain circles in Pakistan. 

Ex-leadership of Afghanistan, NATO/ISAF, U.S. Military, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Central Command, and the international community have been using different words to describe or brand these so-called Taliban groups fighting the Afghan Government and the International Coalition.  They mainly used the terms “insurgents”, “militants”, “terrorists”, “the enemies of Afghanistan” and the broader term “the enemies of peace and stability” when describing the so-called Taliban during their statements and speeches.  The word “bad guys” was also widely used by U.S. military to describe the Taliban.  For the first time, ex-Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the Taliban as “brothers” with a sense that all Muslims are brother to each other.  He tried to use a softer term to describe the Taliban.  Later, some government officials in Karzai’s government used the word “unhappy brothers” when describing the Taliban.  But, there was not a single word or term agreed by the Afghan Government and the International Community used to described these armed Taliban who actually commits major crimes under this name. 

For the first time in the modern democratic history of Afghanistan since late 2001, yesterday, President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in a historic and momentous statement while addressing the nation outlined major lines of his government by giving a clear definition to these armed people fighting the government and used clear words to describe them.  President Ghani even distinguished between the original word used for the Taliban and the current word used by the Taliban. 

President Ghani stated that the Taliban are those people who seek knowledge in religious schools and are not pursuing violent and criminal agendas.   He said the current Taliban are not actually the Taliban who are seeking knowledge.  They are indeed misusing this name.  They are, as described by President Ghani, armed rebels who are fighting against a legitimate people representative government.  President Ghani used the terms, “evils”, “rebels”, and “criminals” to this group of Taliban who committed the last week atrocity in Kabul killing and wounding hundreds of people.

The Taliban who claimed responsibility for the last Tuesday bombing in Kabul are indeed not Taliban. They are criminals, terrorists and murderers who killed and wounded dozens of civilians and even damaged a famous mosque in Kabul.  How could a person who claims to be Taliban can damage a mosque in which Muslims do their prayers and Taliban seek knowledge in it.  This attack has revealed the true face of the so-called Taliban--their evil and terrorist face.  They are not even Muslims –they are a group of people brainwashed to fight for others. 

This is the first time that the President gave a clear picture of the enemies of Afghanistan.  He said that those who kill civilians destroy schools, bridges, hospitals, and even mosques are not Taliban –they are criminals.  He also mentioned that; terrorists, the Haqqani Network, Daesh, and the types of Taliban who carry out attacks like the last week bombing, are all the enemies of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Security and Defense forces are determined to fight them and destroy them.

These remarks by President Ghani were widely welcomed and supported in the media by MPs, senators, Afghan politicians, some political opposition groups, civil society organizations and activists, human rights advocates and local people. 

Now, it is the job of the Afghan religious scholars and spirituals not to allow these criminal groups to use the word “Taliban’ when branding and characterizing themselves and their evil followers.  The Afghan media and the international community are urged to use the right terms mentioned by President Ghani when talking about these criminal and terrorist group.  

Let’s not allow these terrorist and criminal groups to use the word “Taliban” for themselves.  They are criminals, rebels, evil groups, terrorists, murderers, and human rights violators.  These are the right terms that they deserve to be named after. 

Now that there is a clear definition of the enemy and clear words to describe and name the enemy, all Afghans should get united and support the recent stance of President Ghani and support his programs for the future of Afghanistan. 

One thing should not be confused that there are Taliban who are actually against destroying schools, mosques and killing civilians and fighting against the Afghanistan Government, but are deceived by these evil groups.  The doors of peace are still open for these people who are willing to join their families and live peacefully under the Afghan Constitution alongside their fellow citizens.
President Ghani’s Historical Address to the Nation
Today, President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani delivered a historical statement addressing a joint session of the Lower and Upper Houses of the Afghan National Assembly.  This was the first time; an Afghan president addressed the nation in the parliament outlining major lines of his government in the modern democratic era in Afghanistan history since 2001. 

President Ghani sketched clear lines of the National Unity Government in regard to a clear definition of the enemies of Afghanistan, the peace process, dealing with Pakistan, seeking international consent countering terrorism, reforms in the government, reforms in the Afghan judicial system, fighting corruption and the upcoming parliamentary elections. 

Afghans believe that it was the first time President Ghani came up with very clear lines of his government policy concerning very hot issues in Afghanistan.   Political oppositions and analysts including commentators in the media have been criticizing the government for not having a clear policy and clear lines in regard to certain issues in the country since its establishment.  

It is important to mention that President Ghani has done its utmost to keep the doors of negotiations with the Taliban open and bring them to a peaceful life.  Establishing the Quadrilateral Meeting between China, United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan was aimed mainly to seek the right ways through a joint four -party -session to politically end the crisis in Afghanistan. 

The president’s intention was very clear from the very beginning toward certain issues.  As of the establishment of the National Unity Government, there were many unsolved and uncompleted projects, tasks and major national issues left behind by others to President Ghani. 

Corruption in the government, problems in the Afghan judiciary system, the rising violence in the country, the plots by the enemies of Afghanistan to divide the country, the decrease in the international financial aid, the international community’s conditional pledges, not having an air force, the future of Afghan National Security and Defense Forces, the lack of cooperation of the regional countries fighting terrorism and the migration crisis –were all issues that challenged the president. 

President Ghani, very wisely tackled all these issues by prioritizing them.  The most important issue for him was the survival of his country. He saved the country from being divided and preserved the country as a unified country and as a strong nation.  His first focus was to fight the enemy and spoil all the plots by them to divide the country.  Fortunately, he succeeded in this effort and saved the country and achieved his major national goal. 

The signing of BSA with the United States to ensure long term funding and support to Afghan National Security and Defense Forces and convincing the United States to provide long term support including supplying equipments to ANSDF was another prime issue the president worked out. 

As per the president continuous demand and attempts, the United States provided the first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Afghan Air Force.  In addition, India also provided a number of helicopters to Afghan Air Force.  Furthermore, Russia provided 10,000 AK47 to Afghan National Security and Defense Forces to use them against the insurgents in Afghanistan. 

In regard to the rule of law and reforms in the government, the president began working on the appointment of the right people for the cabinet and the right people to become provincial governors.  Several women were appointed as ministers and governors over this period of time.

The establishment of a High Council to fight corruption, the appointment of a professional person as Afghanistan Attorney General, and the positive changes in the Supreme Court were all the remarkable issues the President accomplished during his first year.  Furthermore, the appointment of a new Chairman for the High Peace Council and creation of an international consent to countering terrorism, Daesh, the Haqani Network in the region and Afghanistan, was another goal the president accomplished. 

In today’s speech, the President, outlined some key lines of his government policy toward peace and combating terrorism.  The president stated that Daesh, Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and some Taliban members are the enemies of Afghanistan, and the ANSDF will fight them and will eliminate them.  But, the door of negotiations are still open for those Taliban who accept the Afghan constitution, willing to live peacefully with other Afghan citizens and support Afghan Government efforts to take this country toward development and prosperity. 

These lines of policy highlighted by President Ghani today are consistent with the views of most Afghan MPs, politicians, civil society organizations, elders, religious scholars and the public in general.  These lines draw a clear picture of the enemies of Afghanistan, the challenges ahead and the Afghan Government willing to fight terrorists.  The people of Afghanistan whether they are in the parliament, in the private sector or ordinary people should widely support these remarks and lines by the president and send a clear message to the enemies of this country that Afghans are united and stay behind their legitimate elected government and will help the government to succeed in its efforts to implement projects and programs for the people of Afghanistan.
No Peace with the Taliban killing Afghans
Last week, Afghanistan National Unity Government (NUG) has announced that they will not make peace with the Taliban who will continue to kill civilians and fight Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).   Afghan Government key spokespersons, during a joint press conference at the Government Media and Information Center, stated that it is a priority for NUG to fight the Taliban who have chosen to fight Afghans and ANDSF.  But, still the doors of peace negotiations are open for those Taliban who accept the Afghan Constitution, lay down arms and begin a peaceful life alongside their fellow Afghan citizens and contribute to the development process in Afghanistan. 

This new stance by NUG is taken after the bloody suicide bombing in Kabul on Tuesday in which more than 400 people; mostly civilians were killed or wounded—many private properties were badly damaged during this violent attack too. 

This attack by the Taliban was widely condemned by Afghans including religious scholars and spiritual figures.  They believe that the Taliban have waged an unlawful and illegitimate war against the people of Afghanistan and are fighting for others.  The people of Afghanistan now believe that the Taliban, by killing civilians, damaging private properties, destroying schools, roads and bridging are actually ensuring the interests of outsiders and fighting for the interests of others. 

The people of Afghanistan now believe that the Taliban cannot justify their war in Afghanistan.  Intentionally killing civilians, terrorizing them, and disturbing their routine activities cannot be justified by any means under any laws or regulations.  The recent bombing by the Taliban in Kabul was a clear sign of their brutality and oppression against the people of Afghanistan and a clear sign that the Taliban are carrying out a proxy war in Afghanistan.

People believe that the Taliban are aiming to terrorize Afghans and trying to stop development and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and aims to take the people back to dark ages.  The Taliban should understand that the people of Afghanistan have chosen their way and there is no turn back.  The Taliban cannot deter and divert people from the right path they have chosen.  Afghans want peace, development, education, reconstruction efforts and a bright future for their children. 

The Afghan Government which is a people elected legitimate government is determined to deliver required services to the people of Afghanistan; bring about major positive changes to take the country forward.  The Afghan Government fully enjoys the support of its citizens and the Taliban have lost public support. The recent attack in Kabul provoked people’s anger and hate against the Taliban and now the Taliban are portrayed as terrorists in the minds of people.  

Tuesday’s Taliban attack in Kabul was described as an attack against humanity and as a major atrocity which demonstrated the bad and violent face of the Taliban to the world and underlined the harm that the Taliban continues to inflict on the Afghan people.   The Taliban cannot and will never win this war.  They have lost the support of people and can no longer continue their unlawful war.  The people of Afghanistan fully support their security and defense forces and the government they have elected. 

Super Tucano Effective in Fighting Insurgency
After the establishment of National Unity Government, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani continuously made efforts to attain international support to provide war planes to Afghan Air Forces in order to support ground forces to fight terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan.  President Ghani has called on U.S. and other partners to help Afghanistan in building an efficient and effective air force as the Afghan national security and defense forces are in critical need of air support.

Fortunately, the demand by President Ghani was welcomed by the United States. Afghan Air Force received the first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States in January this year.  This U.S. assistance happened right before the fighting season begins. 

Now, it is believed that these aircrafts are widely used to fight insurgency in Afghanistan.  Yesterday, Spokesperson to Afghan Defense Ministry General Waziri highlighted the effectiveness of Super Tucano aircrafts in fighting insurgency in northern parts of Afghanistan.  He said Afghan Air Force has carried out many aerial operations using these fixed wings planes. 

The provision of these aircrafts did not only upgrade the Afghan Air Force, but also helped Afghan ground forces while combating the enemy.  Now, these planes provide a great backup support to our forces across the country and turned to be effective in fighting terrorism and insurgency. 

Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) are currently responsible for providing security and conducting unilateral operations across Afghanistan.   Two years ago, ANSDF were supported by hundreds thousands international forces in combat operation, while ANSDF is currently carrying out these operations independently.  This shows that ANSDF is improving by capacity and strengthen and can stand against any enemy that threats the national values, sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country. 

Afghans appreciate the recent attempts by the Afghan Government to convince the international community to support Afghan Air Force and also admire the generous assistance of the international community to support Afghan Air Force.  In addition, Afghans urge the international community specially the United States with whom we have signed SPA and BSA, to further pay attention to boosting the capability of AAF.  At this point, we are renewing our call for more war planes including helicopters from our international partners specially the United States.  We proved that we are able to use these planes wisely and the Super Tucano aircrafts were proved to be effective in war against insurgency and terrorism. 

The A-29 is a multi-role, fixed-wing aircraft that provides the Afghan air force with an indigenous air-to-ground capability and aerial reconnaissance capabilities.   These aircrafts are capable to provide close-air support to the ground forces and are able to carry over 30 different types of weapons and munitions to the mission.
NUG has a political will to Fight Corruption and Bring Reforms
The National Unity Government (NUG) is committed to fight corruption and bring necessary reforms in the government in order to render the required services to the people of Afghanistan.  The establishment of a council to counter corruption is a clear sign of the government’s determination to fight corruption.  The Afghan Government political will to fight corruption and bring reforms is inclusive and will produce desired results which will satisfy the international community and the people of Afghanistan.  Likewise, the recent reforms in the Afghan judicial system are aimed to bring reforms in the judicial system of Afghanistan. 
The Afghan Government is accountable to its people because it is a people-elected government and the government receives its legitimacy from the people of Afghanistan.  On the other hand, the continuation of the international aid and assistance is conditioned with reforms in the government and fighting corruption.
The Afghan Government is determined to bring about major changes in the areas of government reforms and fighting corruption.  The nomination and then approval of Minister of Interior and Attorney General is good news in terms of reforms and fighting corruption. 
Fighting corruption is not an easy job.  The people of Afghanistan should fully support the efforts and programs initiated by President Ghani to fight corruption. People also bear major responsibilities in this area.  They should not pay bribes or get their works done in the government offices by paying illegal money to government officials.  They should instead hold the government officials responsible and accountable for rendering services in a transparent manner and follow administrative principles and norms.
In addition, there should be a mutual contract between the government and the public.  It should be a top to bottom and a bottom to top mechanism of operation.  The government is determined to punish corrupt officials and people should identify corrupt officials and individuals and disclose their identity through informing the government.
As, President Ghani stated that last year was the year of survival of Afghanistan and this year the government is ready for action.  It is a clear commitment of the government to bring changes in major aspects of the government.  The government is ready for action this year and the people of Afghanistan will witness the implementation of major projects in the country.
On the other hand, people should promote the culture of fighting and hating corruption in the society.  Civil society organizations and media can play a major role in raising the awareness of people to stand against corruption and view this phenomenon as a hated and bad thing in a society.
So, it is necessary to be united in this fight against corruption and support the government by revealing the identity of corrupt officials so that the government prosecutes them.  It is worth mentioning that the Afghan Government has arrested and prosecuted a number of Afghan Government officials involved in corruption since its establishment.  The government commitment to fight corruption is firm and believe that corruption badly impact economic growth in the country.


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