Pak barrier over US, Afghanistan and Taliban peace negotiations to end Afghan war

March 17th, 2011 - 12:41 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Kabul, Mar 17(ANI): The United States, the Afghan government and Taliban leaders have reportedly begun to take a hard look at what it would take to start negotiations to end the fighting in Afghanistan, but Pakistan is proving to be a looming problem.

According to the New York Times, the Taliban’s fortunes are intertwined with that of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which helped to create the Taliban in the 1990s, but now the Taliban feel trapped by Pakistan.

Some senior Taliban leaders have tried to negotiate with the Afghan government without Pakistan’s approval, including the No. 2 Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was arrested in Pakistan last year.

Other Taliban commanders, too, have been detained, threatened or even killed by Pakistani security forces, to press them to keep fighting.

“The Taliban won’t go for peace talks either in Pakistan or Afghanistan,” the New York Times quoted Qar Mohammed, a senior tribal leader in Quetta who is close to the Taliban, as saying.

“In Pakistan the ISI won’t let them talk freely and say what the leadership wants, and in Afghanistan the Taliban leadership doesn’t trust Karzai’s administration,” he added.

Efforts to start peace talks have yielded little in the past, but pressure is mounting to find a palatable way to reduce the military commitment in Afghanistan.

“The seismic shift here was Hillary Clinton’s speech. This is liberating for other countries who want to try to facilitate a negotiation,” a Western diplomat said.

In February, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech at the Asia Society in New York, appeared to recast longstanding preconditions for talks: that the insurgents lay down their arms, accept the Afghan Constitution and separate from Al-Qaeda. Instead, she described them as “necessary outcomes”.

Another senior Western diplomat in Washington, who is familiar with the strategy behind Clinton’s speech, said: “It was not intentional to explicitly make preconditions into outcomes. But the text now leaves room for interpretation, which opens doors.”

The Afghan government insists that the preconditions for talks remain the same, but supports diplomatic efforts that would lead to negotiations.

It also appears willing to provide amnesty and security for the Taliban leaders. (ANI)

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