October 26th, 2010
01:06 PM ET

Opinion: Talking about talking with the Taliban

Editor’s Note: Abbas Daiyar began his blog, Kabul Perspective, last year to look at issues in Kabul and around the world. He has worked with newspapers in Pakistan and reported for news agencies in the past and is now a member of the editorial board of the independent Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper in Kabul. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Abbas Daiyar.

Once again the talks about talks with Taliban are gaining momentum. It got hyped when President Hamid Karzai announced a Peace Council to talk with the insurgents. This is apparently the most serious attempt, but the process is a complex one, as shown by the contradicting media reports.

It was a U-turn when the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus said NATO has let at least one Taliban commander come to Kabul. Some reports even suggested Taliban commanders were flown to Kabul in a NATO aircraft. It’s more of a political statement rather than a policy, or a green signal for the insurgents, showing a change in the U.S. reluctance over talks with Taliban. But it’s just propaganda when military commanders in Afghanistan say Taliban are under pressure, therefore more are forced to talks. The fact is that 2010 has been the deadliest year for U.S. forces since the start of war.

Rumors also surround talks with Taliban. For instance, last month there was a private conference in the Serena Hotel of Kabul. Former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, former Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Mutawakil, a cousin and some aides of President Karzai, and nationalist and religious Pashtun leaders from Pakistan were participants of this private conference. The media was not informed of the event, thus rumors circulated that ‘secret’ talks were being held with Taliban. Another report about the release of Mullah Baradar by Pakistani intelligence was also rumor, circulating on major media outlets as breaking news.

Since the Peace Council started its work, the Afghan government claimed some senior Taliban commanders have contacted them for peace talks. Then, Taliban spokesmen denied any such contacts. In a recent interview with BBC Urdu, former Gitmo detainee Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said the news of talks with Taliban is propaganda to divide and create distrust among the ranks of Taliban leadership. He also warned the insurgents to be wise against the rumors.

So, the prospects of talks with Taliban are very much overestimated. Apparently, the best hope for decision makers in Kabul and Washington is the Peace Council. But there is no one prominent on the council. President Karzai has said the council will be independent, but its chairman was appointed by him. The mechanism of this council will not be a serious working body, as already problems have emerged from within the council. Chairman Senator Sibghatullah Mujadadi and some members of the council are not happy with former President Burhanuddin Rabbani as its chairman. And Taliban commander in Kandahar Sayed Rahmani has said Rabbani is a traitor who should face a similar fate of Dr. Najibullah after Taliban took over Kabul in the 1990s (Najibullah was killed). When the militants, whom they are going to talk, do not recognize neutrality of Rabbani and others included, how is it going to work? Two prominent names are not on the list of council members:  Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, former rival of President Karzai in last year’s elections and key opposition leader, and Dr. Ramazan Bashardost, another former rival, and the one who talked of the talks with Taliban during his presidential elections campaign.

If there are some former Taliban talking with the Afghan government, it should not mean insurgents are “in contact.” Also, there are many “senior” Taliban leaders and factions.

There are four main factions of insurgent groups.
1) Militants operating in southern parts of the country are mostly affiliated with the Kandahari faction of Taliban led by commanders directly taking orders from Mullah Omar, who is believed to command through the so-called “Quetta Shura” from Quetta city in Pakistan. They operate in southern provinces of Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Helmand, Nimruz and central provinces of Ghazni and Maidan Wardak.
2) The other major group fighting in southeastern provinces on the Af-Pak border is the Haqqani Network led by the Haqqani brothers who are operating from the safe havens of North Waziristan in the tribal region of Pakistan. The Haqqani operatives are influential in Kunar, Nooristan, Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces.
3) Another division of fighters who infiltrate from the tribal areas of Pakistan are affiliated with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by the Mehsoods. This group has conducted many deadly suicide attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan, including the one on a CIA camp by a double-agent recently. They are also targeting the supply vehicles for NATO.
4) The militant group Hizb-i-Islami of Gulbadin Hekmatyar have supporters in Kabul and operate in Logar, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kapisa and some northern insurgency-hit provinces.

As you can see, the leaders and factions are a complex web.

Last year when the talks about talks with the Taliban started, separation of Taliban from al Qaeda was a pre-condition. But nowadays, in the new prospects of talks, no one discusses the reportedly new arrivals of al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. Groups like TTP have close operational ties with al Qaeda, such as the recent attack on the CIA camp in Khost illustrates. And there are new militant leaders emerging.

Among the militant groups, Hizb-i-Islami of Gulbadin Hekmatyar had already responded to the previous offers of negotiations. A couple of months ago, Gulbadin came up with a plan of settlement through negotiations with the fundamental demand of foreign troops’ withdrawal. There are no hopes they will change their mind this time.
In such a mess, it’s naïve to expect the current attempts at talks will succeed. It didn’t work after attempts to buy off Taliban mid-level commanders, and now the efforts to contact senior leadership won’t work either. The prospects of talks are much more complicated than that.

Be it the efforts to persuade Mullah Omar or to engage the Haqqani Network or combating the al Qaeda-linked Taliban in tribal regions of Pakistan - the military intelligence of Pakistan has to be a pivotal part of the solution process, which is even more complicated right now with lack of trust between the U.S. and Pakistan, and the doubts toward Islamabad in Kabul.

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Filed under: Karzai • NATO • Taliban • Voices • Your View
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. pamiri

    we people of Afghanistan do not trust talking with Taliban, becasuse Taliban are wild and their handl is in the hand of ISI and they are wild animals and you can not talk with them, they do not trust on peace and walefare of the people and they just know how to kill people and destory villages and towns ,,

    from Kabul

    July 10, 2011 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Don Diam

    Объвляется финальная распродажа всей коллекции драгоценностей по финальным ценам .

    May 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |


    Продолжается полная ликвидация ювелирных украшений по низким прайсам .


    [i] Отправка во все регионы.[/i]

    May 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pamiri

    you can do peace talk with those, who belief the talk and the peace, but neither the Taliban and nor Pakistan believe on peace, just the Taliban and Pakistan (Alqeda) want to kill people and take the power, I do not think that the peace talk is important with Taliban , Alqeda, it is like giving of tribute for the terrorists, which is the Afghanistan people do not want that, people want justice, because Taliban have killed , genocide many people in the country. Due Karzai and his some ministers are affiliated with Taliban and their Taliban so that they want to talk with them, but the people do not want that, you may have heard through news that the Taliban's attacks escalated since the peace talks started its mean Taliban do not want to talk, it is better to take strong measures against Taliban Alqeda (Pakistan) rather than whimpers

    from Kabul Afghanistan

    March 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. warweary

    why are we still there. to help introduce democracy? outside of Kabul the Afghan people still live pretty much in the stoneage. deocrawhat?
    I understand the initial reason–9-11. but now all weve done is change places with the taliban and al qaeda.
    its like weve invaded a prison and chased the prisoners off and now we occupy the prison. they know exactly where we are but we can only guess where thy ran off to.
    we need to begin the withdrawl now. I know the taliban and al qaeda will eventually return but doesnt that mean we will know where they are just lik pre 9-11. we will never be able to stop terrorism but -excuse the NFL reference-but we may be able to contain it to a greater extent

    February 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dindy..

    Good posts by many.

    February 9, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. A.Xavier Raja

    Safety science and “THE LADY WHO FROM DESERT “in

    January 13, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Not an Idiot is an Idiot

    You obviously have no knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudential law, which states that retaliation is decreed to those who have been driven from their appointed resting. "Slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter." (Q. 2:191) Of course, ignorant disbelieving non-Muslims like yourself don't know that the Shariah is based on Qur'an, so the Qur'anic ruling is paramount.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Coprolito

    Muslim clerics (ayatollahs, muftis, mullahs, imams, sheiks, ullemas, etc.) are the roots of all suicide attacks and violence around the world. These evil creatures transform an ordinary person into an irrational beast. They are the leaders of the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. These AntiChrist followers exert absolute power on Islamic societies controlling tribunals, police, interpreting laws, becoming judge, juror & witness at the same time in their condemns to their own people. If they all were prosecuted and eliminated by applying on them their own evil Islamic moral standards and punishments, most violence around the world would cease.

    December 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • re: Coprolito

      This is called FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR! The Ayatollah, Mullah, Shuyukh etc; don't do ANYTHING. They just issue Islamic law rulings (Fatawah) based on personal reasoning. (Ijtihad) In actuality, these stem from the SAME SOURCES which are the Qur'an and Ahadith and the understanding of the Salaf-us-Saalih, who are the ORIGINAL MUSLIMS! (The first three generations of Muslims).

      So stop blaming PEOPLE for what an IDEOLOGY has done.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. martyjm

    Did anyone watch the Taliban thing tonight. They seem to be a bunch of ignorant hillbillys who hide out and take pot shots and then run away. If they get very lucky they actualy might hit something but usualy they don't. Their leaders feed them a line of BS that they killed a lot of Americans when realy they did'nt hit anything.The only thing that seems to work at all for them is roadside bombs. They have little if any training from the top on down.

    December 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dindy.....


    November 3, 2010 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  12. dindy Sri lanka

    Are you sure that 9/11 was not a C.I.A. put up job? True or not,it was a great boon to the Bush administration!

    November 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy.....


      November 3, 2010 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. dindy Sri lanka

    Today it's the U.S. and it's NATO allies who are trying to subjugate Afghanistan and exploit it's resources!

    November 2, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dindy.....

    Please....do not send drones ..just send Jumbo jets with pilots under drugs.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sanatan

    IMHO Drone is the civilized world response to the unruly Islam inspired extremist warriors who are accountable to none. Hellfire from Drone will not stop until Islam or countries who are accountable manage to bring this loonies to justice.

    October 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Onesmallvoice

      The only loonies who need to be brought to justice are those filthy creeps who operate those ungodly drone aircraft,hurling 500lb.bombs on defenseless people.Those creeps should prosecuted to the fullest extent of international law but,unfortunately,they won't because the people in authority have no sense of justice!!!

      October 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanatan

      Given a choice the world prefers the power who send Drone, who maintain world order, give aid to victims of flood, hurricane, tsunami, volcano etc. On the other end of spectrum are these loonies who are hell bent on creating death and destruction. The choice is stark.

      October 28, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    So your terrorists and murderous friends of truth of 360 degrees have no fear of god for their actions in these killings? And because they do not behave in a manner you approve it is OK to kill them along with 19 others in the Mosque praying?

    October 28, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  17. sanatan

    Your ancestors were criminals who tried all tricks incl. violent means to convert us. Being proud HINDU we suffered under your rule. Never in next millennium we will allow that to repeat. We are part of the world you find no place or at least your thoughts. You are deep in your rat hole and will eventually be dealt with, check for drone above.

    October 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ibaad

      We were taught a lot of lies here in Pakistan as well, but then I read what others (westerners and Indians) were saying on the same issues to get all perspectives. I'd suggest you the same.
      You know what the biggest problem with drones is!!! (No no its not the sovereignty!! We keep compromising on that time and again) Its accountability!! We don't have any way to determine who the victims really are. Have some regard for humanity for God's sake. Wikileaks also had some information on the fact that how inaccurate the drone attacks were but that story understandably didn't get that much attention in the western media.

      October 28, 2010 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
  18. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    Killing a man along with 19 others during prayers is not hatred but truth of 360 degrees that allows the killing of others who do not follow the same lifestyle?

    October 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    My bad you said he ask for it and he got it, his desire was fulflilled. Is this not hatred for ones belief?

    October 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Spiro T.Agnew

    I still want to applaud the right-wing news media for their sensational job of disinforming the public about these Capitalist wars and getting people to believe in our "splendid" victories in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • OneYearInAfghanistan

      So what is the real story Spiro? Once you get past FOX news, the right wing media thing doesn't seem to jive all that well. Maybe you should tune in to Keith Olbermann. Add in the White House Press Secretary et al handling of the current war and I have trouble seeing the right -wing thing. In any case, for news I prefer international sources as most American News is pure drivel. Are they part of the right wing media conspiracy too?

      October 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  21. mela

    i think d writer is a good one

    October 27, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Dindy..

      Phunny boy ..write under your own ID. tHIS IS ME REAL DINDY.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
  22. Dan in Lafayette, IN

    If applauding and saying he got what he deserved after the bombing and assassination of a Governor of a northern province in Afghanistan in a Mosque during Friday prayers yet, is not hatred I don't know what is!

    October 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  23. OneYearInAfghanistan

    Easier said than done. The article points to a very real theme over here in that nothing is simple and easy, let alone in the nice shades of white and black that most Americans prefer. 30 years of war, civil war, foreign occupation, and general lack of stability have made this place an absolute and unequivocal mess. There are no optimal solutions and it won't be fixed by July 2011. Kind of like a buffet of $h1t sandwiches: a number of choices – pick you bread and favorite condiments – but it is what it is.

    October 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Had the Communists won out over the Mujeheddin back in 1978,there would never have been a Russian intervention,no Taliban and no mess as it is known today. That's because of all this outside interference. We need to adopt a "laissez faire" policy toward the whole region and stick to it!!!

      October 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • George Patton

        Quite true Joseph,quite true. Thank you.

        October 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |