Karzai and Haqqani talks.


Senator (1k+ posts)
Report: Karzai holds secret talks with top militant

KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai has held face-to-face talks with Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of a particularly brutal militant group with ties to al-Qaida, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday.
The presidential office reportedly denied that any meeting took place between Karzai and the Haqqani network, a group high on the CIA's hit list that is believed to have been behind some of the most sophisticated attacks across Afghanistan.
Pakistan's army chief and the head of the country's intelligence services are thought to have accompanied Haqqani to the talks, sources told Al Jazeera. Pakistan's intelligence and military officials have long been thought to foster close links with members of the Taliban and other militant groups working in Afghanistan.
The reports have fuelled speculation that Pakistan is trying to forge a deal that would safeguard its interests in Afghanistan, Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr said from Kabul.

Pakistan's neighbor and arch-rival India accuses Islamabad of supporting militant groups in Afghanistan and India's part of Kashmir. India's presence in Afghanistan has grown dramatically since the Pakistan-supported Taliban government was toppled in late 2001.

Haqqanis irreconcilable?
On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that while Pakistan has an important role in brokering talks between Afghan militant factions and Karzai's government, the Haqqanis were probably irreconcilable with the Afghan government and unlikely to give up their al-Qaida ties.
"We see Pakistan as a partner in fighting violent extremism," Hague told reporters during a trip to Pakistan's capital Islamabad on Wednesday.

He declined to criticize Pakistan for allegations that its intelligence service has deep, active links with the Haqqanis and other elements of the Afghan Taliban.

The U.S. and its allies are struggling to shore up confidence in Kabul that the war strategy is on track. After more than eight years of war, the Taliban is resurgent and many Afghans are weary of the ongoing insecurity and pervasive government corruption.

The top American military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, flew to Afghanistan on Saturday to assure Karzai that the new Afghan war commander, Gen. David Petraeus, would pursue the policies of his predecessor, including efforts to reduce civilian casualties.

Petraeus is taking over from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was relieved of his command by President Barack Obama after he and his aides were quoted in Rolling Stone magazine making disparaging remarks about top administration officials.

Violence has been on an upswing in the volatile south in recent weeks, with NATO deaths reported daily.
NATO announced Sunday that more than 600 Afghan and international troops were battling al-Qaida and Taliban forces in the eastern province of Kunar, which borders Pakistan. Three members of the allied force were killed in the fighting, including two Americans, a military statement said.

June has become the deadliest month of the war for NATO troops with at least 93 killed, 56 of them American. For U.S. troops, the deadliest month was October 2009, with a toll of 59 dead.

Taliban attacks against those allied with the government or NATO forces have also surged. In the latest such violence, the headmaster of a high school in eastern Ghazni was beheaded by militants on Saturday, the Education Ministry said. A high school in the same district — Qarabagh — was set on fire the same day.

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Senator (1k+ posts)
Afghanistan in turmoil after peace talk rumours

Pakistani proposals for peace talks between President Hamid Karzai and a notorious insurgent commander have triggered political tensions inside Afghanistan that analysts warn could dangerously destabilise the country.
Western officials say Pakistan's ISI spy agency has offered to negotiate with Sirajuddin Haqqani – an al-Qaida linked commander accused of numerous suicide attacks – as part of a broader initiative to find a find a settlement to the conflict.
Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, and the head of the ISI, Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, are due to arrive in Kabul tomorrow for their third meeting with Karzai in recent months.
Frosty relations between the two sides have thawed in recent months; about 10 days ago reports emerged from Pakistan that the ISI was offering to "deliver" the Haqqani network, which is based in North Waziristan in the tribal belt.
Today a suspected CIA drone attacked a compound in North Waziristan, killing at least three people, in the second strike in as many days. At the same time al-Jazeera television reported that the talks were so advanced that Karzai had met Haqqani in the presence of Kayani and Pasha – a report that officials denied emphatically.
But the very notion of Pakistani-sponsored talks has sparked consternation among Afghanistan's ethnically fractured opposition, who fear the rapprochement with Islamabad will see them excluded from any future political settlement.
"None of the players believe in the current strategy," opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah told the Guardian. "Karzai is going down the drain and taking the international community with him. If he thinks he can give [the Taliban] a few ministries and a few provinces, they will simply take those provinces and then force him out."
Abdullah said he was appalled that the Afghan president had recently referred to the Taliban with the affectionate "jan" suffix. "Talib-jan is how you would refer to your dearest young son – it would be considered too soft to use on a teenager."
Three weeks ago Karzai's intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, and his interior minister, Hanif Atmar, quit in protest at the new Pakistan policy. Both men are Tajiks; Saleh was previously a leading member of the Northern Alliance that helped topple the Taliban in 2001.
Michael Semple, a regional expert, said he was alarmed at the speed with which the political class was fissuring.
"Sane people, who've been part of this process all along, are now saying the country won't survive till the end of the year," he said.
The proposed Haqqani talks have also annoyed US officials, who complain that Karzai is increasingly excluding them in favour of direct dealings with Pakistan. "Karzai hasn't done the groundwork for a deal. What happened with Saleh shows that there's a lot of consternation out there," said one western official.
The ISI, which has long been accused of harbouring the Taliban inside Pakistan's long western border, insists it is not manoeuvring to return the group to power in Afghanistan. An official said policy was to seek a political settlement involving all Afghan factions. "We can live with a hostile Afghanistan, as long as it is peaceful and stable," he said.
Relations between Karzai and Pakistan are thawing rapidly. Pakistani officials have begun to speak warmly of a figure they previously disparaged. The ISI offered him "unconditional support on any and all decisions he makes about the future of Afghanistan," the official said.
Despite the intense speculation, a senior Nato official in Kabul said progress towards a deal was "pretty tentative", adding there was "no real substance in terms of talks and what a deal with the ISI might look like". But he said that with a huge fight against "their own Taliban" the Pakistanis were reluctant to divert soldiers to tackling sanctuaries enjoyed by the Afghan Taliban. And although Karzai has tempered his anti-Pakistan rhetoric in public, he still distrusts the Pakistanis. "If anything, rapprochement between the two sides is frustratingly slow," he added.
It is not clear whether the ISI, for all its reputed influence, is able to "deliver" the Taliban or Haqqani group that easily. One western official said that while the agency has a strong relationship with the military groups, it was not clear whether it extended to "command and control".
"It's like Iran and Hezbollah," said the official. "It's much easier to judge when they are both moving in the same direction. But that is not always the case."
Semple, the analyst, warned that as players to the conflict jockey for position, some were engaging in "disinformation warfare" to influence public opinion. So far, he said, "the story with Haqqani talks is that it's just a story."
Jalaluddin Haqqani: CIA-backed folk hero now allied to al-Qaida

Formerly supported by the CIA, now closely allied to al-Qaida, the Haqqani network has evolved into one of the most ruthlessly formidable challenges to the Kabul government. It is also one of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency's oldest links in the region.
Jalaluddin Haqqani's relationship with the Pakistani agency stretches back to 1976, when the ISI sought to expand its influence in Afghanistan. The thick-bearded tribesman rose to fame in the 1980s as one of the most fearsome guerrilla fighters in the war against the Soviet occupation.
Haqqani (right) received generous support from the CIA and was a favourite of Charlie Wilson, the flamboyant Texan congressman backing the war, who called him "goodness personified". Haqqani was also celebrated in the Middle East as a folk hero of the jihad.
During tours of mosques in Saudi Arabia, he was showered with donations by conservative Muslims. He also came into contact with Osama bin Laden. In 1986 Haqqani allowed the Saudi to build a rebel base on his territory called the Lion's Den. In 2001, he reportedly helped Bin Laden flee from Afghanistan.
Since that year the Haqqani group has been allied to, but separate from, the Afghan Taliban. Leadership has passed to Haqqani's son, Siraj, who over the past two years has been accused of orchestrating major suicide assaults in Kabul. Haqqani militants have bombed the Indian embassy twice, the five-star Serena hotel and the entrance to Bagram airbase, and have been linked to an attack on a US base in Afghanistan last December that killed seven CIA employees. This year CIA drones have hit Haqqani territory in North Waziristan with great ferocity, killing several hundred of the group's footsoldiers but not its leaders.
Western officials say much of the Haqqanis' funding comes from the Arabian Gulf, often carried into Pakistan by couriers disguised as religious pilgrims. Declan Walsh

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Senator (1k+ posts)

This is just the title of article and I copied and pasted it as it is. I do understand the reason behind using such suggestive words or titles.


Senator (1k+ posts)
British army chief backs talks with Taliban

Britain's army chief says talks with the Taliban should begin "pretty soon" as part of the exit strategy for international forces in Afghanistan. General David Richards told the BBC that if a dialogue does begin, it will probably be through a third party.

"If you look at any counter-insurgency campaign throughout history there's always been a point at which you start to negotiate with each other, probably through proxies in the first instance, and I don't know when that will happen," he said.

"This is a purely private view, I think there's no reason why we shouldn't be looking at that sort of thing pretty soon.

"But at the same time you have got to continue the work we are doing on both the military, governance and development perspectives to make sure [the Taliban] don't think that we are giving up.

"It's a concurrent process, and both equally important.

In January, a United Nations official said former UN representative to Afghanistan Kai Eide met with Taliban militants in Dubai with the hope of holding peace talks, but the militants denied the meeting took place. Britain has about 9,500 troops as part of an international coalition in Afghanistan, most of them battling Taliban insurgents in the south.

Just days ago, British prime minister David Cameron said he wanted British troops to leave Afghanistan within five years.