Afghan imbroglio: ‘Taliban foes could undermine reconciliation’

"Pakistan and Taliban are not one party. We don’t control them", says Sadiq.


Reuters November 11, 2012

KABUL: Pakistan hopes to persuade Afghan insurgent groups, including the Haqqani network, to pursue peace – but worries resistance from political factions opposed to the Taliban could undermine reconciliation efforts, says Islamabad’s top diplomat in Kabul.

Speaking in an interview, Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq also suggested US efforts would be better directed at engaging insurgent groups – rather than attempting to defeat them by launching military strikes against their leaders.

Sadiq was speaking just ahead of an expected visit to Pakistan by an Afghan peace council due to give Islamabad a roadmap of how it wants its neighbour to help end the war with the Taliban, now in its 11th year.

“Afghans are much more united in wanting to join the reconciliation process than they were two years ago,” he said. “But still there are very important people who fought against the Taliban and are not still ready to talk and negotiate with the Taliban. And we are working with them.”

Sadiq was referring to former members of the Northern Alliance.“The prime minister of Pakistan had appealed to all insurgent groups to engage in negotiations,” said Sadiq. “We will encourage all insurgents. We will encourage the entire armed opposition of Afghanistan to participate in peace negotiations with the Afghan government.”

“I think normally with insurgents one thing is very clear – that deaths have not weakened them because they replace commanders very quickly. They’re able to replace them in a day or so,” said Sadiq, suggesting the Americans should have learned from the Russian experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“They have people. By killing their people you cannot weaken them. The Soviets killed 1 million, 2 million people. It didn’t weaken the insurgency against them.”

Asked what the country would be willing to do to push the struggling reconciliation process forward, Sadiq said: “Expectations should be reasonable about what we can do because Pakistan and Taliban are not one party. We don’t control them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.

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