A complex game in on in Afghanistan to ensure a modicum of peace to allow for the withdrawal of American and NATO forces from the country by the end of 2014, and the calculation include brokering a peace deal with the Taliban.
Even as the US fights its drone war against the Taliban, and targets its operatives in the semi autonomous region of Pakistan, it is seeking to reach out to the leadership in Quetta to ensure peace. It recently helped the Taliban set up an office in Qatar. Now news comes that the supreme leader of the Taliban, the elusive Mullah Omar in talks with the US to ensure peace.
It is now clear that the US and its partners will not be able to bring peace to Afghanistan with might alone. The future of the government that the US will leave behind will largely rest on the striking a peace deal with the Taliban.
The Taliban too seems to have realized that it will not be able to stave off the US with its insurgency. The drone attacks have already depleted its leadership. Hence its willingness to talk with the US. A New York Times article reported that the Taliban is not willing to talk to the Afghan government. The US has the complex task of acting as a mediator between the two sides, as well as bringing Pakistan to the table.
As a confidence building measure the Taliban is demanding the release or at least the transfer of some of its members from the Guantanamo Bay prison to Qatar or Afghanistan. However the US says that it has not taken a decision on the request as yet. The Taliban is also demanding the complete pullout of US troops from Afghanistan, something that the US is already eager to do, albeit according to its own timeline.
“A total of 1,462 Afghan civilians had been killed in the first half of 2011, up 15 percent over the same period in 2010,” the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in mid-year report released in July, 2011.
Last year, in mid-December, a Dawn news report said US officials confirmed that they had held talks recently with Taliban representatives in Qatar and Germany. The US also supported the step of opening a political office by Taliban in Qatar, which would serve as an outpost for the outlawed insurgent movement.
Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban movement, has been in hiding since 2001 when the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled his Islamist fundamentalist regime.
The US officials earlier claimed that Mullah Omar was one of the original planners of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, it added.