Top UN envoy in Afghanistan says war can't be won "militarily"

Other News Materials 6 October 2008 20:43 (UTC +04:00)

The United Nations' top envoy to Afghanistan said on Monday that the country's conflict could not be won "militarily" and said that success is only possible through dialogues and "political means", dpa reported.

"We all know that we cannot win it militarily. It has to be won through political means. That means political engagement," Kai Eide, UN special envoy to Afghanistan, told a press conference in Kabul.

Eide, however, did not go so far as saying whether Taliban militants, who have waged a bloody insurgency against the Western- backed Afghan government could also take part in dialogue.

"If you want to have relevant results, you must speak to those who are relevant. If you want to have results that matter, you must speak to those who matter," he said.

Following two years of strategic stalemate in the military fronts, and mounting public opinion pressure in western countries which have soldiers in Afghanistan, to end the war, Afghan and western officials have joined a chorus to call for peace with militants.

Eide's calls for negotiation came a day after Afghan Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak, told a news conference in Kabul that the military was not the only solution for country's conflict.

President Hamid Karzai, who consistently in the past had made it clear that his government was not ready to hold talks with Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Omar, did an about-face last week, announcing that the fugitive leader could also be included in peace talks.

Taliban militants, who were ousted from power in late 2001 in a US-led invasion, have advanced from their main hotbeds in eastern and southern regions to areas bordering the capital city, raising concerns that the war could drag on for several more years.

The rebels' spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi, said on Monday that they would not take part at any peace talks unless around 70,000 international forces withdraw from the country.

"We will continue our Jihad (holy war) so long as one foreign soldier is (still) in Afghanistan," Ahmadi told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa by phone from an undisclosed location.

While the hardcore militants insist on continuing the insurgency, Afghan and western officials hope they might succeed in bringing in "moderate" Taliban to negotiation table and create a rift in the movement.