Afghan Leaders In Secret Talks With The Taliban
Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has held top
secret talks with members of the former Taliban government. The dramatic
move could see a return to power of some of the most senior members of the
Taliban, once described by Tony Blair as the most evil, brutal regime in
However President Karzai praised the Taliban's "good elements and said the
movement had done a "great service to our war torn country". The interim
leader, who is becoming increasingly isolated, has lost all power and
influence outside of the capital Kabul. However, news of his attempt to
broker a peace deal with his old enemies is bound to cause shock waves
across the world.
The Taliban delegation was led by the former Health Minister Mullah Abbas
who was last in the capital as British and American bombs rained down out
the outbreak of war in October 2001. The meeting will certainly cause huge
embarrassment to British Prime Minister Tony Blair who celebrated the
demise of the Taliban so publicly after the fall of Kabul. Foreign Office
officials said they were ''aware'' of the peace move but preferred to
remain muted last night.
Although it is quite clear President Karzai's initiative was done with the
backing of the Bush Administration, White House spin doctors also remained
unusually muted in their response to the meeting. A senior delegation of
Taliban, led by Mullah Abbas, slipped in to Kabul for the top secret
several days ago after being given assurances of their personal security
as some are thought to be on America's "wanted" list.
"President Karzai appeared to be delighted to see his old Pashtun
adversaries in the room. There were a number of respected Afghan scholars
also present just to try and keep things civilised in case old arguments
got out of hand.
"Karzai saluted some of the Taliban and said that their movement had done
a great service for the country. It was a very tense, and at times
emotional, meeting and one of many to come", a Taliban source told
Globe-Intel. He said the interim leaders main bodyguards, all American,
were kept outside of the meeting, adding: "It was just as well because
while there was praise for the Taliban there were few good words for the
Since the Taliban regime was deposed in November 2001, a US-dominated
military coalition of 9000 troops remains, under orders to hunt Taliban
and al-Qaeda members. Last week a pocket of Taliban fighters seized
control of part of a district in southern Zabul province. American
casualties have increased and 10 days ago two US servicemen were killed
and five injured in a fire fight near the Pakistani border bringing the
number of US dead to more than 80.
An anti-American wave is also sweeping across the country because of the
military presence and a series of US blunders which have led to the deaths
of Afghan civilians. These include the death of 11 Afghan children who
were killed when a laser guided missile hit their home in Bermil near the
Pakistan border as revealed exclusively in the Sunday Express last month.
US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, on a flying visit to Afghanistan
last week, acknowledged there were "still pockets of resistance" but
hinted that troops would be pulled out of the country next year. A source
close to Hamid Karzai said: "The country is no more at peace now than it
was a year ago, in fact in some ways we are even more fragile because good
will which was given at the time of the Loya Jirga has now gone.
"Our attempt to try and persuade 100,000 fighters to disarm and
reintegrate them into the Afghan national army is failing because the
regional warlords and local militias see it as a threat to their own
power. "Unless we make a peace deal with the Taliban we have no hope of
Afghanistan and no chance of holding elections next year.
The majority of the Afghan people are still suffering from food shortages,
housing, and medical care problems." Continuing American military
operations and political uncertainties are increasing tensions across the
country which is becoming more unstable by the day. Poppy production for
opium, which had been largely stamped out by the Taliban, is now back to
its peak as farmers prepare to harvest their crops of death this week.
Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is understood to have
approved of the meeting taking place. He is thought to be in hiding along
the Pakistan border, but prospects of capturing him remain slim. Another
Karzai aide commented after the first meeting:
"He has his back to the wall. Karzai has failed to get a grip on the
country and they (the Taliban) are the only ones who can hold anything
together here. "He has to talk to them whether he likes it or not - he has
no one to support him, all the warlords are against him and there are few
of his ministers he can really trust. However there will be an adverse
reaction among the ranks of the Mujaheddin, especially the Jamiat-e-Islami
faction who were part of the former Northern Alliance. They will not see
this as a meeting for reconciliation."
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Afghan president's brother, commented recently:
"There have been no significant changes for people. People are tired of
seeing small, small projects. I don't know what to say to people anymore."