Los Angeles 10/20/2010 4:49:35 PM
News / Politics

Top leaders of Taliban converge for peace talks

Many of the senior Taliban leaders are emerging from their secret hiding places in Pakistan to meet the Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul for peace talks. NATO troops have personally secured roads so that the Taliban officials reach the site of discussions safely. Some of the exiled Taliban even used the NATO aircraft to fly from Pakistan to Kabul. This was possible only after they were given complete assurance by the Afghan President that they would be untouched by the NATO troops. President Karzai hopes that this gesture will show them that Afghanistan retains its sovereignty and improve the trust quotient.

In many separate meetings, in and around Kabul, the inner circle of the President has met with Quetta shura, the Haqquini network and Peshawar shura. These are separate factions within the Al-Qaeda controlling different areas of combat in Afghanistan. They are each lethal in their own right. Mullah Omar, the "spiritual leader" of the Taliban was not invited to the peace talks fearing the close contacts he had with the ISI or the Pakistani intelligence agency. It is still unsure as to how influential the Taliban leaders who have participated in the talks are. Their identities are being kept secret so as to safeguard their lives from commanders of other factions of the Taliban.

These talks are being held without the approval of the Pakistani leaders, whom the Karzai’s administration seems to fear as much, if not more than the Taliban. There have been earlier reports of the ISI detaining Taliban leaders who were interested in peace talks.

The American officials are not putting too much hope into the talks. They say the earlier talks did not work out because of preconditions either party put out. In spite of the recent surge of troops and increased intensity of operations in Afghanistan, the Taliban has showed little efforts at reconciliation, says CIA director Leon Panetta