Notwithstanding such concerns, the United States in recent months has given a tentative blessing to Karzai's outreach efforts, though some American officials still express skepticism that the Taliban will actually deliver in negotiations. CIA chief Leon Panetta told ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday, “We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation where they would surrender their arms [and] where they would denounce Al Qaeda.”
Yet Mohammad Akram, the director of the government’s Taliban reconciliation program, says he reckons only 15 percent or so of Taliban fighters are ideological die-hards influenced by Al Qaeda and committed to victory at any cost. He says his job is to convince the remainder that they won’t be punished if they lay down their weapons, and that they’ll have an economic future here.
Those US officials who support such reconciliation argue that if an accommodation can be made that ends violence and prevents Taliban control of much of the country, it could create the conditions for stamping out corruption and improving governance that are at the heart of the current international effort.
They point to the experience in Iraq, where the outreach – with cash – to Sunni insurgents was a crucial step to ending the civil war that erupted there in 2006. Known as the Sons of Iraq, they worked with the US to rout Al Qaeda.