Taliban lays down conditions for talks as wire leaks speaks of "strategic reconciliation"

14:03, November 15, 2009      

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by Abdul Hadi Mayar

As a new intelligence leaks speaks of strategic reconciliation between Hamid Karzai government and Taliban, the latter have laid fresh conditions for holding talks with Afghan government.

"There are possibilities for peace if Taliban are convinced that their objectives can be met through peaceful talks," Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil, the Foreign Minister of ousted Taliban regime said on Friday.

In an interview with BBC, Mutawakkil urged the need for initiating peace process with the Taliban by taking confidence building measures (CBMs).

"Such steps (should be taken), which show that foreign forces are (ready to) leaving Afghanistan," he said, adding that the CBMs will help in successful holding of peace talks with the Taliban.

Mutawakkil's remarks came in the wake of an intelligence leak in London late last week, which revealed that the international coalition and Karzai government was already in the process of "strategic reconciliation" with some members of so-called Quetta Shura of Taliban.

Media reports in recent weeks indicated that American intelligence agencies were trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban through some pro-Taliban Pakistani religious figures.

According to reports, the Pakistani clerics were contacted through an Arab intelligence agency. These reports said a meeting with the mentioned Pakistani clerics was possible in the United Arab Emirates in the near future.

Mutawakkil, according to reports was in the head of a Taliban delegation with which the United States held talks through the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz several months ago.

In recent days, U.S. and NATO officials have been insisting on contacting the moderate among the Taliban leaders while continuing the military offensive against the hardcore insurgents.

"Peace is easier than war," Mutawakkil said, emphasizing the need for convincing Taliban about the good intensions of the international coalition forces.

"The first requirement is to soften the positions and create mutual confidence," he argued.

He also enlisted Taliban's other conditions as release of their detainees and abolition of the "black list" -- of Taliban leaders against whom the United Nations has imposed embargo.

In a last week media interaction, Pakistan-based Afghan affairs analyst, Rahimullah Yousafzai said Taliban might not be intent to wage the fighting indefinitely.

He said: "Taliban might also wish that they should indulge in political activities, have their offices, a spokesman, and carry out journeys."

Before his victory in the presidential election, Hamid Karzai had said that after its induction, his new administration will hold talks with the insurgents.

In his first press talks after his election victory, Karzai called upon Taliban to return 'to their homes and start a peaceful life.'

In past, the Taliban have been rejecting holding of talks with Kabul administration saying that it had no authority in presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan.

This time, the insurgents have not yet responded to Karzai's offer.

The British intelligence leak said the United Nations will remove the names of senior Taliban leaders from the list of blacklisted terrorists within the next six months.

Besides, it said, a Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) will be convened in Kabul within two years to amend the Afghan constitution. It said the proposed Loya Jirga will include representatives of both Karzai government and the Taliban.

For his part, Mutawakkil says convening of Loya Jirga is a final-phase step prior to which a number of CBMs are needed to be taken.

Source: Xinhua
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