Afghan factions unhappy with Taliban negotiations


Pakistani proposals for peace talks between President Hamid Karzai and a notorious insurgent commander have triggered political tensions inside Afghanistan that analysts warn could dangerously destabilise the country.

Western officials say Pakistan's ISI spy agency has offered to negotiate with Sirajuddin Haqqani – an al-Qaida linked commander accused of numerous suicide attacks – as part of a broader initiative to find a find a settlement to the conflict.

Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, and the head of the ISI, Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, are due to arrive in Kabul tomorrow for their third meeting with Karzai in recent months.

Frosty relations between the two sides have thawed in recent months; about 10 days ago reports emerged from Pakistan that the ISI was offering to "deliver" the Haqqani network, which is based in North Waziristan in the tribal belt.

Today a suspected CIA drone attacked a compound in North Waziristan, killing at least three people, in the second strike in as many days. At the same time al-Jazeera television reported that the talks were so advanced that Karzai had met Haqqani in the presence of Kayani and Pasha – a report that officials denied emphatically.

But the very notion of Pakistani-sponsored talks has sparked consternation among Afghanistan's ethnically fractured opposition, who fear the rapprochement with Islamabad will see them excluded from any future political settlement.

"None of the players believe in the current strategy," opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah told the Guardian. "Karzai is going down the drain and taking the international community with him. If he thinks he can give [the Taliban] a few ministries and a few provinces, they will simply take those provinces and then force him out."


I think Abdullah is close to the truth, but I suspect that the Taliban will bail out Afghanistan by rejecting the truce offer. They still think they can get the US to leave and take over. That is not going to happen in the near term.

The Brits seem to be all for the talks.


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