“For the last three years, the Afghan government made a lot of efforts to talk with the government opposition. The talks were not useless, but assassinations, suicide attacks, and violations by the opposition increased,” wrote Siamak Herawi, deputy spokesman for Karzai, in an e-mail to the Monitor. “After many meetings with the country’s elders, Soviet resistance leaders, and the religious scholars’ council, the president wanted to change the procedure of negotiations.”
Last fall Karzai formed the High Peace Council to reach out to the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Led by Mr. Rabbani and many other key Taliban opposition figures, the group was criticized from the start as an ineffectual outreach group and did not produce any significant results over the last year.
Meanwhile, the Karzai government has been accused of undercutting other negotiation efforts by allegedly leaking information about Taliban interlocutor Tayeb Agha to the media, which caused talks to collapse between the US and the Islamist organization.
“The assassination of Rabbani caused the whole peace process to make a 180 degree turn,” says Younas Fakor, an independent political analyst in Kabul. “I believe that Pakistan is the right group to speak with, but … the way that Karzai has raised this issue, I believe his plan will not work. Pakistan will never come forward and start negotiations the way Karzai chose.”
Among most involved with the negotiations, there is a general consensus that they must include Pakistan.