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Talking to the Taliban: rough road ahead

The Karzai government is talking to the Taliban in hopes of ending the war. But the outlook for these talks is as cold as an Afghanistan winter.

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High-level Taliban are reportedly holding peace talks with the Afghan government, but don’t throw the confetti for the war’s end yet. The road to reconciliation is as steep and rugged as the mountains where Taliban hide.

Yes, a political solution must be part of resolving the war in Afghanistan. As US Gen. David Petraeus says, “You are not going to kill or capture your way out of an industrial-strength insurgency.” The general is chief commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

But it would be a mistake for the American public to view these preliminary talks as a quick ticket home for US troops. Many challenges lie ahead, including:

There is no top Taliban to talk to. The Washington Post reported today that the Afghan government is speaking with representatives of the Quetta Shura. That’s the Afghan Taliban group whose leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, hides in Pakistan. Mr. Omar used to head the Taliban government in Kabul before he was ousted by US troops and an Afghan alliance in 2001.

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