Who Really Thinks the Taliban Want to Negotiate?

by Joshua Foust on 10/15/2008 · 3 comments

Hamid Gul, who is totally neutral on the issue, thinks the International Community and Pakistan should consent to Taliban demands:

The Taliban will agree to peace talks if they are recognised as a political force, if a date is set for the withdrawal of international forces, and if Taliban prisoners are released, according to Pakistan’s former spy chief, Retired Lt. General Hamid Gul.

Gul a former head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), said he believes negotations need to be taken forward with Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

“Pakistan has to be brought on board too,” he told Adnkronos International (AKI) and a small group of Western news organisations at a briefing in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

“I know the Taliban, I have worked with them for a long time, and can say they would never talk to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, they consider him a mere traitor and puppet,” Gul said.

Taliban would be prepared to parley with the Americans but only on certain conditions, he said. First, that such talks are held publicly; that the US recognise the Taliban are not terrorists but fighters who are defending their country; that the US and NATO give a date for the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan; and that all Taliban prisoners are freed.

The US presidential election campaign is among various obstacles to any peace talks with the Taliban, according to Gul.

Well I guess we now know which Taliban. So I’d wonder: what about the others? TNSM, HiG, Haqqani, and others, all have a vested interest in continuing militancy in the region.

It goes deeper, though. Mullah Omar’s collaboration would reverse a good 20 years now of solid anti-world craziness. He hasn’t been seen in public since proclaiming himself the Amir ul-Monineen. His deal says nothing of opium cultivation—as much a deal breaker now as when the U.S. gave him $48 million in April of 2001 for the ban he declared. Lastly: the Taliban gain a great deal from their relationship—however tenuous it may be right now—with al-Qaeda. I don’t think they can be discussed interchangeably, but their relationship is deeply opportunistic, and those opportunities haven’t changed since last year.

So… what is this? I would wager nothing more than mere bluster. It requires nothing of the Taliban and everything of the West. It is as serious an offer as a stable of unicorns. Besides which, we’d do well to ignore the advice of an enthusiastic supporter of Osama bin Laden—especially since he used to run the ISI.


Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 1849 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use

{ 3 comments }

kız arkadaş October 17, 2008 at 9:53 am

what is this? I would wager nothing more than mere bluster. It requires nothing of the Taliban and everything of the West. It is as serious an offer as a stable of unicorns. Besides which, we’d do well to ignore the advice of an enthusiastic supporter of Osama bin Laden—especially since he used to run the IS yes

Old Blue October 17, 2008 at 9:35 pm

The Taliban are feeling emboldened; not necessarily by any real gains in territory as by the attention that they are receiving from the western media and the defeatist tone of much of the analysis. An insurgent force that perceives itself as having strength, especially one that has a perception of winning, will not negotiate on even terms, but will make ridiculous demands to further demoralize and fracture their opponent.

There will be those who seize upon the Taliban demands as reasonable or even righteous.

It has also been pointed out that history indicates that insurgents will only offer negotiation under ridiculous terms to confuse their opponents while they have no intention of ceasing their true effort of completely toppling the government.

There are serious issues that we must face in the government of the IRoA to avoid making the same mistake that we made in Viet Nam; propping up a government that is rife with corruption. The original appeal of the Taliban, and a major part of their IO campaign, relate to ridding Afghanistan of corruption; whether or not that perception is true. It doesn’t have to be true… it only has to be believed.

The most significant part of this revelation of the demanding terms under which the Taliban would come to the table is the illumination it gives to the status of the Taliban thinking; and that the General himself admits to his involvement with the Taliban. Our task is to see the play for what it is and then apply good, practical counterinsurgency doctrine.

We must insist that the government of the IRoA clean up its act, or we must help it to discover and overcome its internal weaknesses. The IRoA cannot just be a blank check for warlords to rule their piece of the pie and enrich themselves at the expense of assisting countries.

Mike Camel October 25, 2008 at 7:22 am

Thanks very good stuff

Previous post:

Next post: