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بدھ، 30 جون، 2010

Negotiation with Afghan Taliban not easy, even with Pakistan's help

by Imdad Hussain

Despite Pakistan's involvement in reconciliation within Afghanistan, the war will continue if conditions are imposed on Taliban who have upper hand, experts said Wednesday.

News regarding negotiations with armed groups and Taliban in Afghanistan with the help of Pakistan is again making rounds in recent media reports.

Responsible U.S. officials revealed in interviews that they were aware of the cooperation of Pakistan with the Afghan government in connection to peace in the country.

U.S. CENTCOM Gen David Petraeus said Tuesday Pakistan's involvement in a reconciliation agreement in Afghanistan is essential and the United States needs to further developing partnership between the two neighboring countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan).

Britain has been long stressing that Pakistan's concerns regarding Afghanistan should be addressed and a political solution should be sought out.

Assessing the situation, the United States also felt need of engaging Pakistan in the reconciliation process within Afghanistan. U.S. officials always urge Pakistan to play its role in this connection.

The Afghan government has also come to the conclusion that Pakistan role in resolving militancy issue in the region and Afghanistan is important. So it accepted that negotiation with the opposite elements is crucial for peace, observers maintained.

At present, there were three major opponents in Afghanistan: Hizb-e-Islami led by Gulbadin Hikmat Yaar, Taliban led by former ruler Mullah Omar and Haqqani network, reportedly based in Pakistan's North Waziristan, Afghanistan's Paktia, Paktika and Khost along bordering areas.

However, Haqqani and Mullah Omar are the strongest opponents operating in Afghanistan.

Rahimullah Yousafzai, expert on militancy and regional affairs, told Xinhua that Haqqani network is an extension of Afghan Taliban and they are not different.

Demands of U.S. as well as its backed Afghan government and that of anti-government forces in Afghanistan (Taliban and Haqqani) are absolutely opposite to each other.

Why should Taliban accept negotiation like a defeated force if it is not losing at least currently, experts maintained.

Taliban traditional stance demands that there will be no negotiations until foreign forces quit Afghanistan and they always reject any talks before accepting their stance. On the other side, U.S. is not ready to leave Afghanistan till some stability in the country.

Afghan officials offer negotiation coupled with conditions like laying the arms down, accepting constitution of Afghanistan and cutting relations with foreign militants specifically Al-Qaeda, to armed groups in their country.

At the backdrop of this situation, the Afghan government, the United States and its allies like Britain stress Pakistan's help or role for reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Yousafzai said, "Pakistan's connections with Taliban leadership are not something new. Pakistan supported them in 1994 and accepted their government in Afghanistan."

After the former Soviet Union aggression against Afghanistan, U. S.supported Jalaludin Haqqani, founder of the network and elderly father of Sirajuddin, through Pakistan, experts said.

Taliban would reject reconciliation if Pakistan goes beyond a limit as it is clear that they are at least not controlled by Pakistan, Yousafzai said, adding that the newly appointed U.S. General Patreaus is talking of fight to cut bargaining power of the resistance forces. "So peace or success of negotiation is not possible at this stage," he said.

The U.S. administration believes that bringing close Afghanistan and Pakistan is essential, so they want to assign a role to the later to keep peace in the region even if coalition forces quit Afghanistan, observers said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani announced Friday Pakistan's support for the process of reconciliation and integration in the neighboring war-shattered Afghanistan and promised its help in the plan.

To keep stability in its tribal areas and a stable Afghanistan is also in the interest of Pakistan, seasoned defense analyst and retired Lieutenant General Talat Masood told Xinhua.

But he rejected the claim that a meeting between Haqani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has taken place. "Though negotiation and contacts are going on," he added.

U.S. intelligence officials also accept that contacts may be going on but ruled out any such meeting.

The bid for negotiation with Taliban is going on for the last two years. But if no direct meeting has taken place so far then it means that conditions for negotiations are either not acceptable to Taliban or to the coalition partners and the Afghan government.

Yousafzai, while rejecting any such meetings, said that Haqqani is a member of Taliban Shura, so he cannot take a step without consulting Mullah Omar, the Taliban chief in Afghanistan. "Nor is it possible that Haqqani went to Kabul, why should he go there," he concluded.

Analysts agreed that war is prevailing and continuing and peace process has not yet started. Peace on the foundations of conditions is not possible if Taliban are not weakened, they said.

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