By Anastasia Barysheva and Polina Chernitsa
Afghan president Hamid Karzai has urged fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar to run as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. The statement came after Karzai signaled readiness to start reconciliation talks with Taliban militants who he said may enter the Afghan government.
Speaking at a press conference in Kabul on Thursday, Karzai called on Omar to lay down arms, return to Afghanistan and start forming a political party there. On July 9, the Afghan president said that Taliban militants should lay down arms and recognize the constitution if they are to hold posts in his administration. It appears that Karzai is seeking to intensify peace talks with the Taliban given that the US-led coalition is due to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan before the end of 2014, analysts say.
June 2012 saw talks in Kyoto between representatives of the Taliban and members of the so-called Afghan Peace Council, an organization that was established by the Karzai administration with the aim of developing possible ties with the opposition. It was declared after the parleys that the Taliban is ready for direct peace talks with official Kabul. Taliban representative Zabiullah Mujahid, for his part, denied information about the Taliban’s readiness to sit down for direct peace talks with the Karzai administration. Moscow-based Afghanistan expert Viktor Korgun says that right now, the Taliban are not interested in the alliance with the current Afghan authorities.
“I think that Mullah Omar is unwilling to become an Afghan leader in the future,” Korgun says. “In this regard, Karzai’s latest call is little more than an attempt to drive a wedge between Taliban militants who are reluctant to run for the presidency and compete with secular political leaders based in Kabul. They want to come to power by resorting to the use of force,” Korgun says, referring to the Taliban.
The US has not yet blacklisted the Taliban as a terrorist organization despite the fact that the Taliban have been behind dozens of terrorist attacks in the past. Washington is desperately trying to clinch an agreement with the Taliban even to the detriment of the US political image, believes Moscow-based political analyst Yuri Krupnov.
“Secret talks between the US and the Taliban began four years ago, and President Obama officially admitted this in 2011,” Krupnov says. “Ten years ago, Americans wanted to occupy Afghanistan and oust the Taliban regime. With a spate of issues related to the occupation of Afghanistan and creation of a strategic foothold there already resolved, the focus is currently placed on breaking a political impasse in Afghanistan,” Krupnov concludes.
The presidential elections in Afghhansitan are scheduled for 2014. They may, however, take place well ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan.