Thursday, August 23, 2007

Asia Times reports on negotiations with Taliban

Syed Saleem Shahzad is an internationally respected journalist and the Pakistan bureau chief for Asia Times. In two articles this past week (first here; second here) he asserts that Pakistani and Afghan officials are engaged in back-channel negotiations with Taliban envoys "at the behest of Western coalition forces."

"If there is a positive response from the Taliban, it could mean a ceasefire in the near future, at least in Kandahar and Helmand [provinces in southeastern Afghanistan]. Once this process goes on smoothly, it would guarantee regional peace," a senior Pakistani official told Asia Times Online...

Recall that this would not be the first negotiated cease-fire between Western forces and Taliban insurgents. British forces observed a cease-fire in Musa Qala (Helmand) for several months, before it ended under unclear circumstances in February. Taliban have controlled the area ever since, and there are apparently no plans for Afghan or British forces to attempt to retake the area as of yet.

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