So far, the schools of the region – boys' and girls' – remain open, says Khan Wali Salarzai, a reporter based in Kunar Province with Pajhwok Afghan News. "In some areas which are completely out of the government control, these schools are observed by the Taliban," who are even making sure teachers are not delinquent.
The more conciliatory rhetoric from the Taliban side – to the extent it really is conciliatory – comes at a time when the US has been signaling that it, too, might be more open to talking to the enemy, and a new vision for a postwar Afghan government is emerging. Top officials from the US, Pakistan, and Afghanistan reveal a common goal of resolving the underlying tensions that have torn Afghanistan apart for three decades – and at least the foundation of a shared vision for peace.
Under one scenario outlined by officials in all three countries in recent months, power would be rebalanced among all ethnic groups and warring parties, not just President Hamid Karzai's government and the Taliban. This would be attempted through a central coalition government and decidedly not by carving up Afghan territory among various factions.
Behind the nascent political movement on both sides may be weariness over a war that has now dragged on for a decade – longer than any conflict in US history. Neither side seems poised for a quick or complete victory, the killing of Mr. bin Laden and successes of the year-old US "surge" in southern Afghanistan notwithstanding. Al Qaeda has little operational role in the Afghan insurgency. And the Taliban have responded to losses in the rural south with a series of dramatic suicide attacks inside cities and coalition ranks.
There’s also a ticking clock. The Obama administration set 2014 as the deadline for withdrawing US troops from the country.