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.