UK will work with Taliban should they come to power, says Wallace Defence secretary Ben Wallace. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
BRITISH defence secretary Ben Wallace said the United Kingdom was prepared to work with the Taliban if it enters into a power-sharing government.
“Whatever the government of the day is, provided it adheres to certain international norms, the UK government will engage with it,” he was quoted as saying to The Telegraph in an interview.
However, Wallace warned that Britain will review any relationship “if they behave in a way that is seriously against human rights”.
The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001, have been fighting for 20 years to topple the Western-backed government in Kabul.
Emboldened by the departure of foreign forces by a September target, the insurgent group is making a fresh push to surround cities and gain territory.
In his interview with the newspaper, Wallace recognised that the prospect of the UK working with the Taliban would be controversial.
“What (the Taliban) desperately want is international recognition. They need to unlock financing and support (for) nation building, and you don’t do that with a terrorist balaclava on,” he said.
“You have to be a partner for peace otherwise you risk isolation. Isolation led them to where they were last time”, he added.
Wallace appealed for the Taliban and Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, to work together to bring stability to the country after decades of conflict.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said on Wednesday (14) they had captured the strategic border crossing of Spin Boldak on the frontier with Pakistan.
The situation on the ground could not immediately be verified, AFP said. But Afghanistan’s interior ministry denied the report even as social media was abuzz with pictures of Taliban fighters looking relaxed in the frontier town.
Spin Boldak is the latest in a string of border crossings and dry ports seized by the Taliban in recent weeks, with the insurgents looking to choke off much-needed revenue from the government in Kabul while also filling their own coffers.
As Kabul’s grip over the country appeared to further loosen, former US president George W. Bush slammed current White House incumbent Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all troops.
Civilians were being left to be “slaughtered” by the Taliban, Bush told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle on Wednesday.
“This is a mistake… They’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people, and it breaks my heart,” he said.