‘Afghan govt open to talks with Haqqani network’


Kabul is open to peace talks with the Haqqani network under the right conditions, a senior Afghan government official said.
The official said that Pakistan is genuine about backing the nascent Afghan peace process and shares the Kabul government’s goal of transforming the Taliban insurgency into a political movement.
“This is the vision that they share,” said the official, who is closely involved in reconciliation efforts with the insurgent group. He also said recent face-to-face talks between the Taliban and Afghan officials in Paris were “enormously helpful” for peace efforts.
The remarks signaled unprecedented optimism from Afghanistan that Pakistan – long accused of backing Afghan insurgent groups – was now willing to put its weight behind reconciliation efforts, which are still in early stages and are vulnerable to factionalism.
The senior official cautioned that in order to sustain that optimism, Pakistan would need to take further concrete steps after releasing some mid-level Afghan Taliban members from detention, who may be useful in promoting peace.
Pakistan is seen as critical to US and Afghan efforts to stabilise the country before most NATO combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
The Haqqani network — which has far more experience in guerrilla warfare than the Afghan Taliban – would be welcomed to the peace process as long as it met certain conditions, said the official.


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