Should the Afghans be talking to the Taliban?

September 16, 2008

Afghan President Hamid Karzai used a Sept 11 address last year to appeal to the Taliban to come for talks and end bloodshed in the war-torn nation.

The Taliban responded with even more attacks, turning 2008 into the bloodiest year yet since the U.S. led invasion seven years ago, and understandably Karzai who survived an assassination attempt this year has gone quiet on the talks offer.


But should Karzai, and especially his western-backers, be completely shutting the door on them, or should they be playing the field given that there does seem to be some level of sympathy for them among the local population?

I was in Kabul during the last two weeks and was struck by some Afghans talking about the positives during the Taliban years even as they were clearly ill-at-ease with the more brutal face of the regime.

Mohammad Nasim, a gardner at Kabul’s soccer stadium where the Taliban staged public executions, told me during an interview there were no bribes to be paid, and no running around government offices endlessly under the Taliban.


Work got done in time, he stressed, contrasting his employer’s current struggle to get money from the government for rebuilding the socccer field still haunted by the shootings and hangings.

At the same time, Nasim recalled with obvious pain how three of his relatives were either shot dead or hanged  by the Taliban, near the goalpost where we stood talking to him one quiet afternoon last week. They were innocent like many others put to death by the Taliban on flimsy charges, he said.

But the Taliban also punished thieves and criminals, chopping off arms and legs and it was not long before crime fell.

Much of that is back now along with a full-blown insurgency in which more people have been killed this year than any since the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban in 2001.

Seven years on, life was no better, Afghans told a Reuters reporter in Spin Boldak , a town in the southern province of Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban, with one saying he had donated money to the Taliban fighters during the holy month of Ramadan.

Surging violence, including a spike in civilian casualties, has reignited Afghans’ distaste for foreign forces on their soil of which they have had more than their share throughout history.

And then disillusionment with Karzai for failing to deliver on development, high prices and poverty seem to have added to the frustration that many Afghans feel.


As previously highlighted on this blog, while the Taliban are broadly unpopular in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, they do have some claim on sentiments of sub-nationalism among the Pushtun ethnic group. They have managed to become political movements, writes Juan Cole in Informed Comment

It is interesting that even in Pakistan relatively few speak out forcefully against civilian casualties caused by Taliban suicide bombings or their other violent acts such as targeting of girls schools, as journalist Mustafa Qadri says in this report.


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The come back Taliban have made in Afghanistan is remarkable. NATO ISAF and US military has been brought down to their knees. Taliban have shown military planning skills, resistance, planning and have shown coordination in attacks against occupying Army. Surely, they have become a force to be reckoned with. They definitely have a say in Afghanistan’s future. As the fact remains Taliban are pushtun majority, a sizeable number of Pushtuns in bordering Pakistan serve in Intelligence, Army and well settled in Pakistani society. The choice is clear, accept the reality and bring them into the mainstream. Educate them, address their greeviences, let them put down guns and pick up books. Provide them health and education and surely Afghan society can become free of the drug and gun culture. Unless this happens there is no peace.

Posted by reconciletalibannowornever | Report as abusive

The US should lean on its allies like Saudi Arabia, and have them get tough with Pakistan, by cutting off their petro-dollar aid. It’s time to tighten the screws on Pakistan, because Pakistan certainly has more than a few screws loose.

Posted by Sanjay | Report as abusive

Mr. Miglani,

Talk to Taleban about what? Surrendering to them or ask them to lay down their weapons? Power sharing? Accepting all their demands or part of them?

It is totally wrong to claim that Taleban have become a political movement, which they never were. During all these years of fighting in Afghanistan (1994-2001), Taleban were loudly shouting that they were not interested in political power.

Karzai has appointed a special commission to negotiate with those elements within Taleban that are willing to lay down their arms, but to almost no avail and no success. It was just waste of time and money.

Then, it depends on what you mean by Taleban. Most of the Taleban cadres have gone back to the Mosques, where they professionally and traditionally belonged. I met many Taleban in Afghanistan that are back to civilian life, working as Taleban and Mullahs/Mawlawis. There are some Taleban leader working in the Karzai goverment. Karzai himself was a Taleb.

Those so called “Taleban” that are fighting the Afghan and coalition forces today, they are completely brainwashed by the ISI generals and Paki Mullahs. They are not created for “negotiation”, talking or bringing peace. They are suicide bombers, which the original Taleban never were. For these guys there is no point of return.

The insurgency in Afghanistan is directed, supported from Rawalpindi and ISI’s various headquarters in Pakistan. Negotiating with “Taleban” means surrendering Afghanistan to Pakistan, which uses “Taleban” for this very reason. Talking to the insurgents means going back to square one.

The only way to neutralize and eliminate “Taleban” and al-Qaeda is to destroy the ISI and the Paki Terror Army once and for all.
Bomb ISI back to the “stone age” and their will be peace, stability, prosperity and democracy in Afghanistan and the region.

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive


I’m a Pashtun Afghan and have never supported Taleban and never will.

I know that you are a Paki and therefore your recommendations don’t sound strange to me. But let me assure you all Pakis that if Pashtuns had supported the Taleban today, the picture on battlegrounds would undoubtedly be much different. Fortunately and to your disappointment Pashtuns don’t support “Taleban”. Pashtuns in general have yet to declare war, which they do before start attacking their enemies.

“Taliban have shown military planning skills, resistance, planning and have shown coordination in attacks against occupying Army.”

Here I think you are talking about the Paki army, not the Taleban. In fact the world is at war with Pakistan, which must annihilated along with “Taleban” and al-Qaeda. Just wait a watch.

And stop talking on behalf of Pashtuns, whom you have no clue about!


Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

They Afghans must know better, I do not know

Posted by Lec Neli | Report as abusive

The answer is YES, for the Taliban people are Afghan. Therefore, the solution is an inlusive patriotic dialogue.

Posted by Kiziton | Report as abusive

if what you claim is right,then pasthuns should declare war with pakistan, as all the coveted atrocities & illegal business pakistan operates & indulges in, is very convieniently & clandestinely done in the name of the pasthun tribes & knows exactly how to sell it to the ignorant western intelligensia & guillible western media, who are now attacking & bombing your very own people & this you must do for your future generations(the 1948 attack on india,the golden drug triangle, the great arm bazaar,post cold war-taliban/al queda etc..)

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

Who will Pushtuns declare war against in Pakistan? Sizeable number of Pakistanis are pushtuns. Pushtuns are all brothers and will never fight amongst each other, rather we will unite against India and fight them as it is India trying to instigate the pushtuns and pit them with one another.

Posted by Pakistani | Report as abusive

Dialogue cannot be dismissed. Not unless you want to know what it is like to fight someone with nothing to lose.
Much of the Taliban are disgruntled normal Afghans, brainwashed into extremism by a handful opportunistic of manipulators citing the presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil that foolishly support certain factions without understanding the country’s volatile ethnic balance and civilian collateral damage as an excuse for war. It is ironic since the military coalition that deposed the Taliban that is responsible for the re-emergence of the Taliban in the first place years after it ceased existing as a threat years ago. By continuing the use of military force after the Taliban fell instead of channeling efforts into rebuilding and national reconciliation between Afghans so that elements that spread discord become isolated, the Taliban found enough public support to come back in strength. This is why some European countries now balk at sending in more troops into Afghanistan despite American and British drumming up for more, it’s not that they don’t want to risk their soldiers, they just realize that their soldiers stopped being the solution years ago. Once NATO understands this and instead start rallying all Afghans as equals in efforts of rebuilding the country in the way that preserves the sovereign integrity for all Afghans as equals, including Talibans,then the extremist elements will have no further excuse to exist or matter anymore.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

if sizable number of brave pashtun live in pakistan, then you should have thought before eploiting them & maligning their name & mauling their pride for ulterior motives & gluttony, Now Beware, they are coming after you punjabi pakistani feudal lords to avenge themselves, no sweet laden poisonous brotherly talks will suffice, get ready to die a traitors death!

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive


I totally agree with you when it comes to Pakis using the Pashtuns to further their geopolitical and strategic agendas against West and India in Afghanistan. Pashtuns are fully aware of enemy designs against them.

Let me begin by stating that the nativity and stupidity of West in Afghanistan, as it continues without any significant changes, will cost them darely. The current trends in the war on terror and West’s chronic hesitation to attack terror bases inside Pakistan, will turn the Pashtuns against them. Pashtuns are waiting and watching to see if West keeps its promise of catching Bin Laden@Co and bringing them to justice, which unavoidably means going after them where they always have been welcome, namely the dirty, ugly, unwanted, misshaped, colonial and evil legacy that is called Pakistan, which is the biggest enemy of Pashtuns on earth. I dare to say that if West fails to go after the terrorists inside the terror entity of Pakistan, Pashtuns will rise and defeat West in Afghanistan. This is a natural consequence of West’s misguided policies in regards to Pakistan since the launching of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001.

Pashtuns are not stupid and have buried many empires and superpowers in the previous and recent past of the region, but they were never anti-Western until the ISI and the Paki terrorist generals prepared the ground for the West to attack and weaken the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and keep them in an unstable shape. It was the Punjabi generals who brought Osama and his al-Qaeda to Afghanistan. It is in Pakistan where al-Qaeda has their headquarters and leaders. While ISI was guarding, supporting and guiding al-Qaeda, the shameless Pakis and some stupid western analysts call it Pashtun hospitality. Pakistan wants nothing else than to see Pashtuns weakened, kept backward, divided and have a bad image in the world, and the West is there, at least so far, to give the Pakis an helping hand by bombing Pashtun villages and killing thousands of innocent Pashtun civilians, who are overwhelmingly the biggest victims of the Cold War, the Soviet invasion and now the “war on terror”, thanks to our “Muslim brothers” in Pakistan.

In short, what is the result of the “war on terror” in Afghanistan? While thousands of Pashtun civilians have been killed by both sides in the war, al-Qaeda and all terrorist organizations in South Asia are getting stronger and thriving. Osama is alive and in Pakistan.
What ISI and Paki generals want is to turn the Pashtuns against the West and they are succeeding in this, while all U.S. Army can do is to fire a few missiles without really knowing the targets, as if a few missile and commando attacks would stop the infiltration into Afghanistan.

Since Pashtuns don’t support Pakistan’s imposed war on Afghanistan, the criminals of ISI and the Terrorist Army of Pakistan is getting frustrated and desperate. The bombing of Indian Embassy in Kabul was signs of that frustration, but it also demonstrated that India has failed to reach to the Pashtuns on both sides of the imaginary, imposed and defunct Durand Line. India’s policies are not very positive in regards to Afghanistan.
First it supported the Soviet invasion and their puppet communists, later it put all her eggs in the basket of the criminals, losers and rapists of Northern Alliance. As long as India doesn’t correct this policy fault lines and reach the Pashtuns, Pakistan will have the upper hand in some quarters of Afghanistan. Reaching the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line should be a priority for India’s regional policies, because that will create stability in South Asia.

Finally, as long as the Pashtun lands bleed, South and Central Asia will follow suit. As Iqbal Lahore puts it: “Afghanistan is the heart of Asia. If it bleeds, Asia will bleed.” It is in the lands of Pashtuns that South and Central Asia is balanced. Whoever controls the Pashtuns in the future will have the golden key to a continent. No one can get in or out of Central Asia without passing through the Pashtun lands that stretches from Herat in the West to Peshawar in the East, Balkh in the North and Quetta in the South.

I want to ask all Westerners involved in Afghanistan: Why and against whom are you propping up the Terrorist Army of Pakistan:

a) Afghanistan?
b) India?
c) Iran?
d) China
e) al-Qaeda????

You guys need to find a the correct answer before it is too late for you.
So my advice to Westerners in Afghanistan:

1. Attack Pakistan now and eliminate the Paksitani supported terrorists of al-Qaeda and the so called Taleban,
2. Secure the nukes of that terrorist entity
3. Immediately seas all military cooperation with and delivery of arms to, such as F16s, to the Terrorist Army of Pakistan, which has been busy massacring innocent Pashtuns and Baluchi civilians, NOT al-Qaeda!
4. Withdraw your economic and diplomatic support to that terrorist land of Pakis
5. Stop killing Pashtun civilians

If you fail to do so, prepare yourself to face the wrath of the Pashtuns and another historic defeat in Afghanistan. After that, all you can do is to blame yourselves.

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

I agree with you kabura.. Pakistani terrorist are able to regroup only because of poverty in paksitan and Afganistan. they get people to fight just by giving them food once a day.India has realised this situation and that is the reason why India is supporting development in Afganistan and you may know pakistani terrorist ISI couldn’t with stand growing influence of India in afganistan that is why they targeted Indian labours working for development in afganistan and Indian embassy in kabul. Hell with pakistan they cannot tolerate their own brothers growing.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

Kabura & OM,
Nice illustartions about Pakistani Terrorists (Pak army, ISI and regular Muslim Terrorists) you people have proposed.
If West really want their stability them they have to consider the real cause of the problem in afghan.Its countless Muslim Terror factories in Pak co-sponsored by Pak army ,al queda and ISI .They have only one agenda “keep killing innocent people arround the world in order to impose their evil muslim ideology.Anyone againsts their Muslim ideology would be their enemies.No wonder why they killing cowardly thousands of people from India to US and UK .

We need to destroy these muslim terrorists with their ideology.

Posted by Kumar | Report as abusive

Kabura and OM
You might agree with one another, but i dont agree with any of you. Wht is India so worried about its embassy in Kabul when New Delhi is already in the hands of terrorism. Indian hindu fundamnetalists have created the reason for terrorism. Whenhindus can kill christians, why should christians not retaliate. Who knows? maybe the New Delhi blasts were carried out by christians of Orrisa to avenge the killings. India is on fire, burn to hell.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

I am totally agreement with you,
Jut a few personal observation of the past.
The Indian support to the soviet was never much than of lip service & strategic moral support , I say strategic because the ground reality during the cold war was detrimental to India’s sovereignty – on one hand the Chinese invasion, on the other hand the Pakistanis’ being actively funded billions & billions of dollars & sophisticatedly being armed by the Americans (which they still do, as if they are not aware what Pakistan will do with it), the Pakistanis behaving like contract killer, diverting the major chunk to terrorize & destabilize India with the very open support of the western world who have till date imposed all sorts of economic, military & technological sanctions on India, isolating & treating it like a pariah, further when in 1971 America sent their Nuclear fleet to blast off India, when we tore Pakistan apart & liberated east Pakistan(Bangladesh) from west Pakistan, It was the soviets who stood up against the American for our sake & we do not betray or leave our friends when they are in need of us.

All I know of the Durand line is that even in 1949 it was the British India under Lord Mountbatten who meditated between Pakistan & Afghanistan, and the FATA region chose to join Pakistan after the Indian partition, anyway today we are the best of friends.

Between the Pakistani Taliban / Al Qaeda & the Northern alliance, I think the choice was obvious, and it’s Hamid Karzai who by that time greatly influenced India’s Afghan policies, Also the support was limited & restricted to the nature of building hospitals & constructing roads & infrastructure, which at the end of the day is of benefit to the citizens at large irrespective of who is in power, which we till date continue to do, for example the road link to Iran that will end Afghanistan’s total port & trade Pak dependency with the rest of the world.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

Don’t be surprise if Muslim terrorists has gone crazy and screaming .Their Grandpa(US)has already started destroying these Muslim Terrorists.You people don’t need hide in holes for very long time your wait is over ,u muslim terrorists would be burnt in ur hiding holes including your mosques and madrasas.We have alerted brave indian Army to keep an eye on border in case these bloody muslim terrorists would try to find a safe heaven in india by crossing border in night.They(Indian Army) have assured us they gonna send these bloody terrorists to their original home(HELL).

I won’t mind if you terrorists keep going mad before you all sent to hell.I’m sure US won’t take much time in this process.


Posted by Kumar | Report as abusive

Dear Reuters moderators,

Please stop censoring my messages to the forum and try to live up to the standards of Western democracy.

It is totally unnecessary, destructive and hurting.

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

was the message to my observations?

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

Bismillah-E-Rehman-E-Rahim, Sab Hindu bhaiyo ko bhi Ram-Ram,

Terrorists O Terrorists,






insallah humari fatah aur hindustan ke dushmano ki shikast hogi !!!

Allah hafij

Julfikar Ali on behalf of all Delhi Muslims
New Delhi

Posted by Julfikar Ali | Report as abusive

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