The supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has indicated that he and his followers may be willing to hold peace talks with western politicians.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, two of the movement’s senior Islamic scholars have relayed a message from the Quetta shura, the Taliban’s ruling council, that Mullah Omar no longer aims to rule Afghanistan. They said he was prepared to engage in “sincere and honest” talks.
A senior U.S. military source said the remarks reflected a growing belief that a “breakthrough” was possible.
“There is evidence from many intelligence sources [that] the Taliban are ready for some kind of peace process,” the source said.
At a meeting held at night deep inside Taliban-controlled territory, the Taliban leaders told this newspaper that their military campaign had only three objectives: the return of sharia (Islamic law), the expulsion of foreigners and the restoration of security.
“[Mullah Omar] is no longer interested in being involved in politics or government,” said Mullah “Abdul Rashid”, the elder of the two commanders, who used a pseudonym to protect his identity.