In London, Afghan President Hamid Karzai argued that the best way to end the war in his country was by reaching out to the Taliban leadership. He also announced that he would invite Taliban leaders to an upcoming peace jirga (tribal conference). This initiative is a significant development in Karzai’s plan for stabilising Afghanistan, which he set in motion about a year ago.
‘Talks about talks’ between the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership have already begun, according to a UN official, who revealed on Thursday that the UN representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, met “active” members of the Taliban insurgency in Dubai this month. The meeting was not a negotiation, rather, it was an initial discussion on the possibility of beginning peace talks with the Afghan government.
The Afghan government’s desire to engage with the Taliban leadership is bound to cause diplomatic friction between Kabul and Washington. The US also supports talks with militants, but has called for a strategy that involves luring back low- and mid-level Taliban fighters, as opposed to the top leadership, which is accused of sheltering Osama bin Laden and working closely with Al Qaeda.
Do you think the Afghan government should enter peace talks with the Taliban? Should Kabul engage the Taliban leadership, or only win back the loyalty of militant ‘foot soldiers’? Do you think militants will be open to joining the Afghan government and furthering the democratic process? Can Kabul afford to anger Washington?
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