Peace talks with Afghan Taliban set to break down | Pakistan Today

Peace talks with Afghan Taliban set to break down

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE, the main facilitators of US-backed Karzai-Taliban peace talks, fear that the reconciliation process in Afghanistan is heading for a breakdown due to Obama administration’s failure to extend certain guarantees to the Taliban, including a clearly laid down timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
These three key players in the Afghan conflict have now been trying for months for some sort of a breakthrough in the ongoing Karzai-Taliban peace process and they have been urging all parties, including the US to show flexibility and abdicate its hard stance.
“The Taliban, on their part, have softened their stance by putting a halt to their basic demand of US-led troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan as a prior condition to talks. However, the Americans have not been positive in their response to a relatively soft demand by the Taliban for the announcement of a schedule for withdrawal,” a Pakistani official privy to the developments.
He said the facilitators of the Afghan peace process were deeply perturbed by the hurdles and believed that the stalemate could lead to a complete breakdown of the peace process. “If the talks fail, one should be ready for more fight and bloodshed in Afghanistan in the future and the most worrisome aspect is that if that happens, no one, including Pakistan, considered close to the Taliban, will be able to bring an end to the war,” the official said.
He said militant groups, including the Haqqani network, were confused by the US strategy, wherein it had extended an olive branch to the militants on one hand and had increased drone attacks in North Waziristan on the other.
“They (Taliban) are fast getting suspicious about the real motives of the US administration and they have started feeling that the peace talks could be a tool to divide the Taliban or to weaken their fighting capability in the face of unrelenting US led foreign troops’ onslaught,” the official said.
Another Pakistani intelligence official said another major hurdle in the way of success of the Karzai-Taliban talks was the Americans’ reluctance to get directly involved in the dialogue.
“Taliban consider the Afghan administration a US puppet, incapable of making vital decisions or extending the required guarantees. The Taliban leadership wants the US to take the driving seat itself,” he said.

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