Saturday, June 14, 2003

Nothing is impossible with Chimpco. The US is now negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

KARACHI - Such is the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, compounded by the return to the country of a large number of former Afghan communist refugees, that United States and Pakistani intelligence officials have met with Taliban leaders in an effort to devise a political solution to prevent the country from being further ripped apart.

According to a Pakistani jihadi leader who played a role in setting up the communication, the meeting took place recently between representatives of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Taliban leaders at the Pakistan Air Force base of Samungli, near Quetta.

The source told Asia Times Online that four conditions were put to the Taliban before any form of reconciliation can take place that could potentially lead to them having a role in the Kabul government, whose present authority is in essence limited to the capital:

---Mullah Omar must be removed as supreme leader of the Taliban.

---All Pakistani, Arab and other foreign fighters currently engaged in operations against international troops in Afghanistan must be thrown out of the country.

---Any US or allied soldiers held captive must be released.

---Afghans currently living abroad, notably in the United States and England, must be given a part in the government - through being allowed to contest elections - even though many do not even speak their mother tongue, such as Dari or Pashtu.

Apparently, the Taliban refused the first condition point blank, but showed some flexibility on the other terms. As such, this first preliminary contact made little headway. It is not known whether there will be further meetings, but given the fact that the reason for staging the talks in the first place remains unchanged, more contact can be expected.

If you are interested at all about the conditions in Afghanistan today, I urge you to go read the whole article.

Thanks to See the Forest for the link.