Xinhua brings together various strands of Afghan peace efforts during past few weeks in a dispatch with Kabul dateline. The strands are: a) Opening of a ‘representative office’ of Taliban in Turkey; b) Hamid Karzai’s visit to London Wednesday; c) Karzai’s confirmation that US and Britain are engaged in direct talks with Taliban; d) Meeting in Jeddah Thursday under the auspices of OIC.
Overall, US and Britain are hoping to regain control of the peace process and to smother the joint Afghan-Pak initiative (with Turkey’s blessings) by bringing in Saudi Arabia and OIC, which Pakistan will be hard-pressed to oppose openly. But Pakistan is lukewarm. In the present vicious climate in Persian Gulf, any key role for Saudi Arabia will be anathema for Iran also. Everyone is hedging.
An interesting development is that US granted Rabbani access to Guantanamo Bay to meet a top Taliban leader Mullah Khairullah. This is the first time such a thing is happening and it shows US keenness to somehow get top Taliban leadership engaged, with reprieve from UN sanctions list as quid pro quo. But Xinhua ends on a note of pessimism - no progress is possible ‘in the near future’. Xinhua flags the US occupation of Afghanistan as the core issue blocking peace talks from gaining traction,
Interestingly, Xinhua observes that Karzai’s own preference would be to give Pakistan a lead role in the peace process so that Islamabad brings Taliban to the negotiating table, but is apprehensive that any prominent role for Pakistan would ‘anger’ India, which is Karzai’s benefactor. Read Xinhua commentary….
Posted in Politics.
– March 6, 2011