Afghan government to pursue peace talks with Taliban
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Afghan government to pursue peace talks with Taliban

Kabul : Afghanistan | Oct 03, 2012 at 3:44 PM PDT
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Top Taliban Leaders' Leverage Sought in Afghan Peace Talks

It was long awaited. There was really no other way forward, but to hold dialogue with the Taliban and other militants based in the violence-wracked Afghanistan. The enduring and lasting peace in the volatile country can only be achieved if all stake holders including the Taliban are taken on board and given an important role in internal affairs of the country. After the lapse of a decade, the Afghan government led by Hamid Karzai is ready to have peace talks with the Taliban. Are the Taliban willing to initiate peace talks with the government? There is no response from them yet, but definitely the initiative is also beneficial for them.

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul announced on Wednesday about the government’s desire to initiate peace talks with the Taliban. It is a good move for peace, indeed. Peace and harmony is the only way forward in Afghanistan and the Taliban should accept the offer.

Although United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has vowed to continue supporting Afghanistan even after 2014, when the US plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, different options are being explored by the Afghan government to establish peace in the country. It should be noted that the US has also long wanted to have dialogue with the Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders.

Why a dialogue process between the US and the Taliban has not taken off? A number of incidents in Afghanistan and abroad hampered the process and some stakeholders in Afghanistan also opposed the dialogue process to protect their own vested interests. One of the major stumbling blocks in the way of dialogue between the US and the Taliban is lack of trust between both of them. Also, the Taliban hate the US-led coalition forces for some of their blunders. A few months back, NATO troops invited wrath of Afghans by mistakenly burning copies of Holy Quran on one of their military bases. The violent protests also claimed lives of a few people and eventually President Barack Obama had to apologize to Afghans over the incident. Later, the NATO troops were accorded special training on handling some delicate issues like Holy Scriptures that may stir violent protests against them.

The US plans to withdraw the 130,000 troops from the volatile Afghanistan at the end of 2014 and has chalked out a complete strategy for it. However, the observers opine that such acts may also harm the strategy of the Obama administration. What is needed at the moment is to bridge trust deficit between the Taliban and the US.

It is heartening to know that the Afghan government is ready to initiate dialogue with the Taliban, but the question remains what will be agenda of the talks. Are the Taliban ready to negotiate with, as they have said repeatedly, “the US-installed puppet government?” Fresh elections in the volatile country may be a solution to the problem. Let’s see what happens in the next couple of months.

StephenManual is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is a Reporter for Allvoices.
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