‘Bizarre’ peace meeting: Afghan female lawmaker’s tryst with Mullah Omar

Published: July 16, 2011

Homa Sultani says she offered to arrange Karzai’s meeting with the Taliban leader. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

KARACHI: While US President Barack Obama’s administration and its protégé in Kabul are desperately trying to make peace with the Taliban, a female Afghan lawmaker claimed on Friday that she had met the reclusive Taliban commander Mullah Muhammad Omar near the Afghan capital just over a fortnight ago. However, the Taliban publicly deny that any such meeting took place.

Homa Sultani, a member of the Wolesi Jirga – the lower house of Afghan parliament – from the restive Ghazni province, said that she had met the Taliban leader twice in over a year in Afghanistan. “The first time I met Mullah Omar was around a year ago in the Helmand province,” Sultani told The Express Tribune by phone from Kabul. “I’d told him that I wanted to mediate between him and the administration of President Hamid Karzai,” she added.

“The second time I met him 16 or 17 days ago at a place some 150 kilometres from Kabul. I spread my headscarf for him on the floor and he sat on it,” said Sultani, former head of the Afghan Human Rights Association. The last meeting took place at a well-guarded house and at least a dozen senior Taliban commanders were accompanying Mullah Omar, she added.

Sultani said that Mullah Omar was also pained to see the destruction and human suffering in Afghanistan. “I presented my peace proposals before Mullah Omar and he accepted them. He called me ‘sister’ and mandated me to mediate on his behalf,” Sultani claimed.

Though there is no way to authenticate Sultani’s claim, but, if true, this would put to rest all allegations from US and Afghan officials that the one-eyed Taliban leader was hiding somewhere in Pakistan.

Asked if she met Mullah Omar alone, Sultani said, “No, Mullah Abdul Baseer, a former Taliban commander, accompanied me in both meetings. It was, in fact, a relative of Mullah Baseer who had arranged the meetings at my request.” She said Mullah Baseer is an elder of the same Ghalizai (Khilji) tribe to which Mullah Omar belongs.

Sultani said that she had met President Karzai two days before her meeting with Mullah Omar and that he had given the go-ahead for the peace initiative. However, after the meeting the Karzai administration backed down on its commitment.

Sultani claimed that she also has a handwritten letter having an endorsement from President Karzai and ‘signatures’ of Mullah Omar.  “I showed the letter, written in Dari language, to journalists at a news conference in Kabul today,” she told The Express Tribune.

The journalists apparently laughed off her claim.

“Mullah Omar has sworn to me that if my peace initiative was rejected, he will never engage in any peace process. ‘You are my sole mediator,’” Sultani quoted Mullah Omar as telling her.

She refused to divulge details of her peace proposals saying that she would disclose them if the coalition countries or the Karzai administration approached her.

However, the Taliban dismissed Sultani’s meeting as a fraud. “It will take more than a woman’s scarf to bring peace,” a Taliban spokesperson said.  The Taliban have publicly maintained they will not enter into any negotiations as long as foreign troops are in Afghanistan.

President Karzai’s office was not immediately available for comment. Presidential spokesperson Waheed Omar was not picking up his phone despite repeated attempts.

Despite the denials and scepticism, however, some analysts are still willing to believe Sultani’s account and deem her mediation offer to be credible.

“Sultani is a responsible woman and I think she would have not made such a claim, if she had not met Mullah Omar,” Asif Nang, a Kabul-based political analyst told The Express Tribune by phone. “The Karzai administration must take her seriously.”

But at the same time he said that most Afghans believe that Mullah Omar is hiding somewhere in Pakistan. “Perhaps, that is why the Afghan media is not taking Sultani seriously,” Nang said.

Sultani’s claim coincided with the start of the drawdown of foreign troops from Afghanistan. The first batch of 650 US troops flew out of the Afghan province of Parwan on Wednesday. President Obama has decided to pull out about a third of 100,000 US troops from Afghanistan during the next year.

Meanwhile, US officials and the Afghan High Peace Council are trying desperately to engage the Taliban in talks to find a solution to the war in Afghanistan. But it appears that they are very cautious before trusting anybody offering mediation in the peace talks.

Last year, an Afghan shopkeeper had engaged in talks with Nato officials impersonating as senior Taliban commander Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. He swindled millions of dollars from Nato officials and disappeared.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • faraz
    Jul 16, 2011 - 9:25AM

    Mullah Umer should negotiate with the non-pushtoon ethnicities of Afghanistan if he is really interested in peace.

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  • Ahmad M. Qamar
    Jul 16, 2011 - 9:53AM

    If peace in Afghanistan is in need of a scarf, the Obama administration can knit one in seconds.

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  • Al
    Jul 16, 2011 - 10:07AM

    another fake story planted…US and it Allies including Pakistan has lost this war…get over it…Taliban will come back to power soon…This is the will of the Almighty…

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  • Jul 16, 2011 - 11:53AM

    This is a really weird claim. There’s no saying with certainty that it is true or false. But, one certain thing is, after all this time and conflict nobody is going to feel secure in believing it without something more than what has been given. It’s hard to believe to begin with. Even humoring it feels a little foolish without reminding yourself weirder things have happened in the world.

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  • Shahid
    Jul 16, 2011 - 12:17PM

    @Ahmad M. Qamar:
    How fanatic people have become … They still believe in stories like ‘Harry Potter’ and this one …

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  • Feroz
    Jul 16, 2011 - 12:47PM

    This lady seems to want to play the role of mediator so that she can carve a share of the spoils whenever they are apportioned. Seems to be a nice gimmick to improve her standing and stature. The chances of this lady speaking the truth is optimistically less than 1%.

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  • Irshad Khan
    Jul 16, 2011 - 2:33PM

    A beutiful short story but having no substance and no details of talk. This is a good propaganda stunt.

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  • Naveed
    Jul 16, 2011 - 3:03PM

    watch your back lady.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Jul 16, 2011 - 3:16PM

    One has to believe the story of this Afghan lady since she would have known these Taleban monsters too well to risk her life by spreading lies about her meeting with Mullah Omar.

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  • Amir zada afridi
    Jul 16, 2011 - 7:34PM

    very nice and compleat short Story…….

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  • Sadiq Hussain
    Jul 18, 2011 - 12:15AM

    Whatever may be the case,a true story or fake,negotiations for peace process must be continued.If we want peace in Pakistan,we must encourage such negotiations in Afghanistan.

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  • Jul 20, 2011 - 2:05PM

    Its very strange. I think there are more chances of him being in Pakistan than being somewhere close to Kabul at least from a practical perspective. Other thing being that, Mullah Umar led Taliban have been undermining women’s rights and have played havoc with them during their rule, how can they let a lady mediate on their behalf when stakes are so high. I believe there is alot more to this story than what appears to be.

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