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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Afghan, Pakistani leaders discuss Taliban peace talks Afghan, Pakistani leaders discuss Taliban peace talks

ISLAMABAD — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday sought to secure help from Pakistani leaders in facilitating peace talks with Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban leaders, while the militant group denied any interest in negotiating with an “impotent” administration.

Karzai’s visit to Islamabad, the Pakistan capital, came amid reports that he had said in an interview that the U.S. and Afghan governments had begun secret talks with the Afghan Taliban insurgency. In recent months, U.S. officials have been meeting with Taliban envoys to discuss the establishment of a Taliban office in the Gulf state of Qatar. But late Thursday, the Taliban issued a statement strongly denying the movement had taken part in secret talks with the Karzai government.

“We have not decided to negotiate with the Karzai regime,” said spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. He called the Karzai administration “impotent” and accused the Afghan leader of wanting “to extend his foreign-backed power for a few more days.”

Previously, the Taliban leadership has dismissed Karzai as a “puppet” and publicly indicated willingness to hold contacts only with the Americans and the West.

However, a member of the Karzai-appointed body set up in 2010 to try to begin negotiations with the Taliban, Haji Musa Hotak, said the Taliban position had changed.

“The Taliban have stopped insisting on talking to the U.S. and not the Afghan government,” he said. “Now the Taliban are saying they are ready to talk with the Afghan government face to face. They said they will talk to both Americans and the Afghan government.”

With both Kabul and Washington pushing for peace talks, Pakistan is regarded by both capitals as a major obstacle in the process. Both Afghan and American officials maintain that Pakistan’s intelligence community continues to actively support Afghan Taliban insurgents.

Experts say Pakistan views the militant group as a key asset in a post-U.S. Afghanistan to prevent nuclear archrival India from extending its influence to Kabul. Pakistan’s military leaders continue to regard India, and not Islamic extremists, as their main nemesis. Pakistan denies that it supports Haqqani militants or provides them sanctuary.

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