Talking to Taliban
AFTER 10 years of war and expending thousands of lives and billions of dollars, the US-led coalition finally appears to have realised it would be less costly and embarrassing to strike a deal with the Taliban.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has confirmed that the United States has been in talks with the ‘enemy’ it has spent a decade trying to wipe out and failed.
In a related development, the UN Security Council unanimously voted on Friday to separate the UN sanctions against Taliban and Al Qaeda, imposed in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks.
Clearly, the Security Council move recognizing the Taliban and Al Qaeda as separate entities with separate agendas is aimed at paving the way for possible peace with the Taliban.
Goes without saying this is the most positive news to have come out of Afghan front in 10 years, although this is early days yet and what could be described as talks about talks.
This war should never have happened in the first place.
The Taliban had nothing to do with the 9/11 terror strikes that ostensibly triggered off America’s so-called war on terror and the invasion of Afghanistan.
The only crime that the Taliban, in power when the two planes hit the World Trade Center twin towers, could be accused of was sheltering Osama bin Laden and his band of extremists.
The Taliban, of course, refused to turn over the Al Qaeda chief.
They would rather give up power than betray their guests, in keeping with the Afghan tradition and code of Pakhtunwali.
The rest of course, as they say, is history.
As a consequence, the Taliban were driven out of power by the ‘coalition of the willing.’ However, as the US and its everwilling allies have found out over the past decade, the unseating of the Taliban regime was the easy part.
The conclusive defeat of the insurgency and effective imposition of its writ over Afghanistan is a goal that has eluded the West despite the awesome military muscle and resources at its disposal.
This is why for quite some time now there have been repeated calls by many in the West for dialogue with Taliban.
President Karzai himself has been a passionate votary of engaging the ‘insurgents’ who still command massive public support, especially among the majority Pashtuns.
As the West completes 10 years in Afghanistan and the US economy reels under the backbreaking burden of the war, Washington is apparently keen to explore some kind of face-saving deal and get out.
The bulk of US forces are to start leaving next month, according to President Obama’s strategy, although the US is unlikely to cede its control over Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, let’s hope that the USTaliban engagement will soon lead to peace and ease the suffering of the ordinary Afghans.
In fact, both sides must immediately cease hostilities.
Talks and attacks do not go together.
The Afghans have paid a monumental price over the past 10 years, caught as they are between Taliban and Western forces, for no fault of theirs.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in indiscriminate bombing by the Western coalition.
Now that Bin Laden is out of the way and Al- Qaeda has been decimated in Afghanistan-Pakistan, according to US and NATO admission, the West has been left with no fig leaf of an excuse to remain in the region.