Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Taliban reconciliation anyone?


TIMESSQUARE/PACKAGEFaisal Shahzad, the Pakistan-born American charged with trying to bomb New York, may have failed in his objective, but one unintended consequence of his act may well be that a plan to reach out to insurgents in Afghanistan has been blown out of the water.

To be sure the Afghan Taliban which is entirely focused on fighting foreign forces in their homeland has nothing to do with the failed Times Square bombing. It is the Pakistani Taliban that claimed responsibility initially and the suspected bomber’s links to the group and another Pakistan-based group fighting Indian forces in Kashmir are being investigated.

But given the alarm that the would-be bomber has caused in the United States, it is hard to see how Afghan President Hamid Karzai can sell his proposal to seek reconciliation with insurgent leaders when he visits Washington next week on what is already looking like a difficult trip.

The space for such a move was always limited but it has shrunk further since last Saturday’s failed bombing. The Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are two heads of the monster, writes Jonathan Chait in The New Republic taking issue with the New York Times’s characterisation of the Pakistani Taliban as different from the Taliban  groups that the United States is fighting in Afghanistan.