Wednesday: Taliban, Afghan Leaders Reportedly in Talks; NATO Tankers Hit
Tankers carrying oil for NATO forces in Afghanistan burn Wednesday following an attack in Pakistan. Photo by Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty
Secret, high-level talks over a negotiated end to the Afghan war have taken place between Taliban representatives and the government of President Hamid Karzai, according to The Washington Post.
Citing Afghan and Arab sources, the Post reports that for the first time Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mohammad Omar.
The Post reports:
“Whatever domestic political difficulties the administration may fear would result from a negotiated deal with the Taliban, [a European] official said, would be resolved by ending the war earlier rather than later. ‘A successful policy solves the political problem,’ he said.”
The war in Afghanistan enters its 10th year on Thursday. The Associated Press’ Deb Riechmann assesses the last nine years:
“As the war drags on, the U.S. has lowered its sites and goals. Fewer people these days are talking about establishing Western-style democracy in Afghanistan. Instead, the focus is on finding some way to force out al-Qaida — even if that involves a deal with Taliban members.”
NATO Tankers Attacked Again
Militants torched more than two dozen tankers carrying fuel to NATO troops in Afghanistan and killed a driver Wednesday. It is the sixth attack on the convoys since Pakistan closed a key border crossing almost a week ago.
The AP reports and has footage of the scene here:
Rifaat Hussein, professor of security studies at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University, tells the BBC why NATO’s convoys are so exposed.
The latest attack comes on a day in which a new White House assessment criticizes Pakistan’s campaign against militants, “stating bluntly that its government and military have been unwilling to take action against al Qaeda and like-minded terrorists.”
“The aggressive language of the report — which also criticizes the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari — could further strain difficult relations with a key ally and undercut support in Congress for providing billions of dollars in aid to Islamabad.
Foregin Policy’s Kalsoom Lakhani says the United States has a serious image problem in Pakistan and points to the Obama administration’s use of drone attacks as the main source of the problems.
“What a surprise: bombing Muslims more and more causes more and more Muslims to want to bomb the countries responsible. That, of course, has long been the perverse ‘logic’ driving the War on Terror.”
The AP reports on the latest U.S. bombing on Wednesday: “Intelligence officials say a suspected U.S. drone has fired two missiles at a house in northwestern Pakistan, killing six militants.”