Monday, October 25, 2010

Is the Taliban interested in peace talks?

Photo by Sgt. Brian Tuthill


By TARIN NAVID

MULTAN, Pakistan - According to US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrook, Taliban leaders on high level are showing interest in talks with the U.S. backed Afghan government.

“What we’ve got here is an increasing number of Taliban at high levels saying, ‘Hey, we want to talk,” Holbrook says. It is believed to be the result of intensified NATO and Pakistan Army’s military campaign against the militant groups. The list of the groups seeking an alternative to the military operations includes the Afghan Taliban,  Pakistan Taliban, Haqqani Network, Hezb-e-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda.

Holbrook cautions that the war in Afghanistan cannot be compared to the wars in Vietnam or Bosnia because in Afghanistan there are no single or clear issues that can be brought to the peace talk table.  He says there is no “Ho Chi Minh and no Slobodan Milosevic” but there is a “widely dispersed group that we roughly call the enemy”.
The enemy Holbrook refers to is not operating under normal war ethics and is engaged in gorilla type warfare.   So what we have here is a bunch of dysfunctional groups who may or may not share the same objectives, but what they all have in common is their hatred for the West.  This hatred extends to the allies of the western nations, whom they perceive to be the enemy of Islam and Muslims.

These beliefs are shared by militant groups in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan. The rugged border of Afghanistan and Pakistan is most favorable for carrying out terrorist activities. Both sides of the border provide safe haven for these groups as they can move freely between the two countries.  This makes the military type war against these militant groups difficult.

Maybe that is reason that Holbrook believes that the war cannot be won militarily and that “some kind of political element to this is essential.”

We are waiting for the solution to this problem and whatever it takes to restore peace in this region of the world. The people of Pakistan are wary of the unrest and civilian blood spilled in the name of religion as these militant activities have extended to places of prayers and sacred shrines.

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