|US revives Taliban tryst in
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - Faced with escalating unrest and an
increasingly stronger and more organized guerrilla
resistance in Afghanistan, the United States has stepped
up efforts to address the country's troubles, including
its moves to draw elements of the ousted Taliban back
into the political process.
Asia Times Online
broke the news on September 12 (Tribes, traditions and two tragedies
) that a new Taliban grouping under the name
of Jaishul Muslim had been formed to at least talk to
the US about political developments. Apart from Mullah
Abdul Razzak, a Pakistani who was a defense minister in
the Taliban regime, the group consists of low profile
Taliban, and not Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
On September 17, the organization was finally
officially launched in the Pakistani border city of
Peshawar. Its founder, Akbar Agha, issued a statement
that was prominently reported in the Pakistani Urdu
daily Nawai Waqat, in which he called for a jihad
against the US "invaders" in Afghanistan, but at the
same time criticized Mullah Omar's "self-centered"
In the Afghan capital Kabul,
meanwhile, in an address to a council of clerics,
interim chairman Hamid Karzai claimed that not all
Taliban were involved in war crimes during their rule
from 1996 to the end of 2001. Therefore, he argued,
those who were not involved in any kind of crime could
be considered for inclusion in the government setup.
Ever since abandoning power in the face of the
US-led invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban have slowly
regrouped, to the point that they now command widespread
support in many parts of the country, especially in the
south and southeast, and they continue to harass US-led
forces as well as the newly-constituted Afghan Army.
US intelligence clearly realized this situation,
and since the beginning of the year it has attempted to
reach a compromise with the Taliban, on the proviso that
they (the US) do not lose face.
Online on June 14 reported on the first attempts (US turns to the Taliban) in
which a meeting was set up by a jihadi leader with close
Taliban, al-Qaeda and Pakistani Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) links. The meeting took place between
representatives of the ISI, the US Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) and Taliban leaders at the Pakistan
Air Force base of Samungli, near Quetta.
demands were dished out to the Taliban, which were set
as pre-conditions for the inclusion of the Taliban in
the Afghan government:
Mullah Omar must be removed as supreme leader of the
All Pakistani, Arab and other foreign fighters
currently engaged in operations against international
troops in Afghanistan must be thrown out of the
Any US or allied soldiers held captive must be
Afghans currently living abroad, notably in the
United States and England, must be given a part in the
government - through being allowed to contest elections
- even though many do not even speak their mother
tongue, such as Dari or Pashtu.
The talks ended
very quickly as the Taliban refused to accept the first
condition, on which they made it clear that they could
not show any flexibility.
After this failure,
both the Pakistan and US intelligence establishments did
a lot of groundwork to develop a proxy organization that
would help split the Taliban and reduce the intensity of
its resistance movement. The Taliban's second line,
third line and even fourth line were given attractive
offers, and finally the Jaishul Muslim came into being.
Asia Times Online sources familiar with the
negotiations that led to the creation of the Jaishul
Muslim say that the plan is for its members to
infiltrate camps in Afghanistan where jihadis are
trained. Here, and subsequently in the field, they will
attempt to sway Taliban commanders with the offer of a
place in the government as an inducement. If they are
successful, it would obviously be severely damaging to
the Taliban's morale.
However, there are serious
doubts that, without Mullah Omar, any movement could
really say that it represented the Taliban. At the same
time, the organization has been planned and launched in
Pakistan, and seemingly it has little, if any, support
within Afghanistan itself.
In the initial days
when the Taliban retreated from Kabul and Kandahar, a
similar group was set up, the Jamiat-i-Khudamul Koran
(Organization of the Servants of the Koran). This was in
fact the real name of the Taliban movement when it first
emerged in the 1980s in Quetta and Peshawar - and also
with the help of the ISI.
The Jamiat's members
were mostly former ministers in the Taliban regime
critical of Mullah Omar giving shelter to Osama bin
Laden and al-Qaeda. They vowed that they would revive
the Taliban in its original form.
The group then
disappeared from the headlines. However, a few months
ago, some intelligence sources said that the
organization had again joined hands with the Taliban and
was engaged in fighting against the US and its allies,
notably in eastern Afghanistan.
Such are the
shifting sands of Afghan politics into which the US is
now treading ever further and further.
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