Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif heads to Afghanistan tomorrow to discuss security issues with President Hamid Karzai, whose reluctance to sign a pact to retain U.S. troops beyond 2014 has stoked concern in the region.
By Karen DeYoung, Peter Finn and Craig Whitlock Oct. 5 (Washington Post) -- Taliban representatives and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai have begun secret, high-level talks over a negotiated end to the war, according to Afghan and Arab sources. The talks follow inconclusive meetings, hosted by Saudi Arabia, that ended more than a year ago. While emphasizing the preliminary nature of the current discussions, the sources said that for the first time they believe that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mohammad Omar. "They are very, very serious about finding a way out," one source close to the talks said of the Taliban. Although Omar's representatives have long publicly insisted that negotiations were impossible until all foreign troops withdraw, a position seemingly buoyed by the Taliban's resilience
Afghanistan’s interior minister said tough negotiations with the U.S. will pay off in a security agreement letting American forces maintain a presence in his country after most troops depart next year.
A U.S. drone strike that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban risks reversing a thaw between the nations two weeks after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cited improved ties to woo investment on a visit to Washington.
Pakistan said today it would release the Afghan Taliban’s top military commander in a move that Afghanistan has said would encourage insurgents to join peace talks before the U.S. reduces troops next year.
Zahid Khan advocated talks with Taliban militants in 2009 to stem a barrage of terror attacks in the northwest Pakistan province where his party led the ruling coalition. Now he sees negotiations as a waste of time.