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TALKS WITH HAQQANI ?

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* Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, has met Sirajuddin Haqqani , the leader of the ISI backed Haqqani insurgency network, based in Pakistan and operating in North-East Afghanistan, in face-to-face talks, the Al-Jazeera Arabic TV channel has learned, on Sunday 06/27/2010. The Haqqani network is thought to be responsible for the most sophisticated attacks in Kabul and across the country.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is reported to have been accompanied to the meeting earlier in the week by Pakistan’s army chief and the head of its intelligence services (see – Waldman Report). Hamid Karzai’s office, however, denied on Sunday that any such meeting took place.

Major-General Athar Abbas, the Pakistani army spokesman, also said he had “no knowledge of such a meeting taking place”.

Hamid Karzai’s alleged meeting fuelled increased speculation in the Afghan capital that Pakistan is trying to strike a deal in Afghanistan that would safeguard its interests in the country.

“With the US war effort floundering and plans by the White House to start withdrawing troops by July 2011, Karzai may be cozying up with Islamabad…It may be the reason behind the forced resignations of the Afghan interior minister and intelligence chief who are hard-core opponents of the Taliban”, Zeina Khodr, an Al-Jazeera correspondent, said.

“Any political agreement may temporarily find a solution – but giving Pakistan a say in Afghan politics could undermine stability in the long term, especially among Afghans hostile to their neighbor,” she said.

Afghan media have also reported that secret meetings are taking place and that Hamid Karzai is actively trying to hammer out a deal with groups opposed to his government (see – Jirga 06.05.10).

Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, said there was “no evidence” that the Haqqani network leadership was willing to negotiate. “We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce Al Qaeda, where they would really try to become part of that society,” Panetta said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday 06/27/2010.

Hekmat Karzai, the director of the Kabul-based Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies and a cousin of the Afghan president, said such talks would be that of a pragmatic leader who understands the realities of Afghanistan and the region.

Talat Masood, a defence analyst and former Pakistani army general, agrees that it is necessary to bring Pakistan and Haqqani into negotiations. “It would greatly help and facilitate a peaceful exit of US and NATO forces if these warlords and Taliban are prepared to undertake negotiations and reach some sort of understanding of power-sharing,” he said.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai repeatedly claimed that without power sharing deal with the Taliban or, at least, significant segments of the insurgency, there cannot be a political solution and stability in Afghanistan (see – Karzai’s offer). Although some in NATO-ISAF and USA share the same view their time table is too short to carry on with success negotiation with the Taliban (see – Europe Commitment ). 

 

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