US wary of Pakistan brokered agreement with Haqqani

Washington Times:

U.S. officials and a former Afghan foreign minister are expressing skepticism over Pakistan-brokered talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and al Qaeda-affiliated groups, saying Islamabad appears to be trying to install its proxies in a future government in Kabul.

With an assessment for a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan set to begin in July 2011, Pakistan has stepped in to fill what it sees as a security vacuum in its neighborhood.

Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, and its director of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha are leading the vacuum-filling efforts. The two recently facilitated a meeting between Mr. Karzai and Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network, according to an Al Jazeera news report over the weekend.

The Obama administration says it will consider dealing with only those groups that cease violence, support the Afghan Constitution and renounce al Qaeda. U.S. officials say the Haqqani network does not meet the criteria and describe the prospect of negotiations between Mr. Karzai and Mr. Haqqani as disturbing.

Still, Mr. Obama said over the weekend the negotiations should be viewed with "skepticism, but also openness."

...

I think skepticism is called for. There is no evidence that the Taliban are willing to give up their objectives are that they think they have lost hope. That time may come if the surge is a success, but it is a bad time to be pushing for a truce.

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