ISLAMABAD: Political parties representing Pakhtun nationalists in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan will attend a grand jirga Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to convene in Kabul later this month to seek a settlement with his rivals, including “reconcilable” Taliban.
The Awami National Party (ANP), the Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP) and other nationalist groups have been invited to the jirga scheduled for May 29, according to officials in these parties. The jirga is seen as a first serious effort by the Karzai government to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict. But Washington has serious doubts about its outcome with President Barack Obama’s administration questioning the logic behind holding talks with those (Taliban) who want to destroy both Afghanistan and the US.
In a meeting with Karzai in Washington earlier this month, President Obama reportedly urged his Afghan counterpart to defer plans to hold direct talks with the Taliban at least until the withdrawal of US-led international forces from the country by mid 2011. Karzai during his visit to Islamabad earlier this year had agreed with the Pakistani leadership to revive the loya jirga process between the two countries to chalk out a joint strategy for reconciliation with the Taliban.
The loya jirga was first held in Kabul in 2007 but both Afghanistan and Pakistan could not follow up on the process. According to the agreed arrangements, Islamabad in Kabul would hold a mini-jirga after Karzai’s initiative before going to convene a loya jirga later. The Afghan jirga was initially planned for May 2 but was delayed due to Karzai’s four-day trip to Washington. The two-day jirga aims to discuss and finalise ways and means to open negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. Around 1,500 delegates from all over Afghanistan are expected to participate in the jirga including representatives of all militant factions, Afghan parliamentarians, intellectuals, tribal elders and politicians.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 24th, 2010.
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