Wednesday, February 25, 2004

TALIBAN OUTREACH PROGRAM: In an interview with a Pakistani television station, Hamid Karzai hinted at an formal meeting with former Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil. Karzai said:

"Mullah Wakil Ahmed has written me a very nice letter. He has explained what he is thinking of the future of Afghanistan, which is quite reasonable. He has asked to meet with me. I have sent some of my people to talk to him twice, and I will probably also consider meeting with him or not in the coming days. There are the thousands of others who are from this country, who are part of the society, who are like any other Afghan, who have committed no wrong. It is their home. They are welcome to stay, go to their villages, do business, make a life. Under [Mullah Omar’s] thousands of Afghans were murdered. Life became hell. Afghanistan was held back, Afghanistan was turned into a country in the Middle Ages. For me [Omar and bin Laden] are criminals and they have to be arrested and they have to face justice."
Until now, Karzai has only sent personal liaisons to talk with Muttawakil to bring him, and through him other Taliban insurgents, over on Karzai’s side. I’m highly skeptical on whether he can sway some Taliban leaders, since Mufti Abdul Latif Hakimi, Mullah Omar’s spokesperson, has already denounced hum and has said that “the only people who can speak on behalf of the Taliban are those assigned by Mullah Omar.”

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