Reconciliation With Taliban: An Impossible Plan
By: Zabihullah Noori
Afghan President Hamid Karzai — an out of favour character, not only among the world leaders, but also among many Afghans — seeks ways to regain fame by bringing the Taliban around the negotiation table.
Many Afghans consider Karzai’s second term as illicit because of scandalous fraudulent votes in the August 20, 2009 presidential elections. Since stepping in the office for a second term, Karzai’s first goal has become legitimising his government. Therefore, he has been running around in different parts of the world trying to drum up support for his administration. Going to Turkey for regional talks; attending London Conference for presenting a peace deal with the Taliban; traveling to Saudi Arabia to gain support for the deal; participating in Munich Security Conference and demanding support for increasing Afghan troops to 300,000 are some examples of his efforts in this matter.
To continue to gain international support, Karzai has called upon the international community to allocate more resources to the Afghan government and to train the Afghan security forces to gradually become able to take control of country’s security. Karzai’s reintegration initiative has apparently won international backing, without forming a concrete mechanism for reconciliations.
To respond to Karzai’s call for supporting the Afghan security forces, President Barack Obama approved the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in December.
Concerning the reconciliation with the Taliban, on one hand the international community seems to have realised that the Afghan battle cannot be won with military operations alone, on the other hand, it has been a demand of President Karzai to negotiate with the Taliban, because according to him, the Afghan Taliban who are not associated or ideologically committed to Al Qaeda should be given a chance to re-join the mainstream society.
Previously, Karzai has repeatedly called up on the Taliban to embrace the Afghan constitution and join the political process, but none of those green lights have been welcomed to date, partly because those calls did not echo the support of the international community.
Taliban’s response to Karzai’s call for negotiations have always had pre-requisites—the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, the removal of Taliban Supreme Leader’s name from the United Nation’s blacklist, and a considerable power—sharing-deal that neither Karzai, nor the international community can accept.
It has been observed that any time Karzai would call for negotiation with Taliban; the Taliban would launch a series of offensive attacks as a sign of negation for talks.
As recent as January 26, 2010—just two days ahead of London Conference, where the negotiation with Taliban was planned to be the main focus of the conference—Taliban launched a massive attack in central Kabul, some 50-meter away from Karzai’s banker, where Karzai’s new cabinet members were being sworn in. In the gigantic offense, which according to some experts were “a show of power” at least seven insurgents, equipped with rifles and machineguns, wearing suicide vests attacked key government locations in Kabul and fought against the US-trained Afghan forces for about six hours.
Lately, the international community and Karzai government have come up with alternatives to Taliban’s demand, offering immunity, job and other monetarily benefits to encourage the Taliban to lay down their arms. This approach will be a waste of efforts, as it will encourage ordinary jobless civilians, particularly those who live in the tribal areas to join the Taliban temporarily or to claim that they had been part of the Taliban just to return back and get the government allocated benefits. The ideological Taliban’s demand is solid –the withdrawal of international troops and a considerable share in Kabul government.
As a Taliban spokesman said that the Taliban mandate doesn’t allow talks in such circumstances while Afghanistan is “occupied by infidel forces.” According to Taliban spokesman, the Taliban does not trust Karzai and his allies, because they talk about reconciliation at the same time they increase the troops against Taliban.
Since there is no sign of willingness from the Taliban to come forward for a negotiation, therefore, Karzai’s call for negotiation may remain a dream that would never come true.
The article was first published at www.tolonews.com (previously known as www.quqnoos.com)
Zabihullah Noori, an independent journalist from Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, is a graduate of Arizona State University with a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications. Mr. Noori contributes to different Afghan and international media by writing current affairs analysis, editorials and opinion pieces. He also blogs at (NTR) Noori Truth Reflector