US establishes contacts with Mullah Omar: report
The US has established contacts with Omar to negotiate an end to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Islamabad: The US has established contacts with Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar to negotiate an end to the conflict in Afghanistan, a media report on Tuesday said.
Abdul Haqiq, a former Afghan Taliban spokesman who used the alias Mohammad Hanif, played a key role in helping Washington reach out to Mullah Omar, 'The Express Tribune' newspaper quoted a source as saying.
Haqiq was arrested by US and Afghan intelligence agents in Afghanistan in June 2007.
He was one of the high profile Afghan Taliban spokesmen along with Yousuf Ahmadi, appointed after chief spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi was arrested in October 2005 in Pakistan.
Several claims have been made so far by the US about negotiations with the Taliban but Islamabad and Kabul were never taken into confidence over the talks, the report said.
The US reportedly offered the Taliban control over southern Afghanistan, leaving the north for other political forces under American influence.
However, this was rejected by the Taliban.
"The acceptance of such a proposal could not be possible for the Taliban as it could lead to the disintegration of Afghanistan," said former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Hamid Gul.
The daily quoted a Pakistani diplomat in Kabul as being optimistic about the talks.
"The Taliban are aware that it will be difficult to defeat foreign troops in Afghanistan or capture the entire country.
"Similarly, the US is also aware that it cannot defeat the Taliban in the next few years," the unnamed diplomat said.
A senior official in Pakistan's Foreign Office was not as sure of the success of the US-Taliban talks.
"Such talks are bound to fail as Washington is trying to achieve its goals without taking (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai into confidence.
"If at all the Afghan Taliban agrees to the reconciliation talks, their preference will be with Afghan leaders over foreign forces," the official said.
Central Asian diplomats in Islamabad too expressed doubts about the practicability of the US-Taliban talks.
"On the one hand, the US is building six permanent military bases in Afghanistan, and on the other, talking about the withdrawal of its troops from the country," an ambassador of a Central Asian state was quoted by a Foreign Office official as saying.
Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani told the Afghan House of Representatives earlier this month that his organisation had made contacts with the Afghan Taliban.
He told the house that the Taliban were not willing to trust the Afghan government's reconciliation process.
"The Taliban nurse doubts about Kabul's initiative," he said.