Karzai dashes to bring Taleban into the government

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WHILE hundreds of Afghan civilians are being killed in General Petraeus’ Afghan surge, and British and US casualties escalate upwards despite the ‘victories’ being achieved, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai – who retained the presidency when a second round election run off was cancelled after the first round was declared to be rigged – has been holding peace talks with a pro-Taleban delegation in Kabul, under the noses of the US-UK military.

Karzai has now gone to China to get the support of the Chinese leadership. While he is away the talks are continuing with representatives of a major insurgent group whose leader is known for anti-US rhetoric and support for al-Qaeda, but who was a key CIA ally, along with Osama bin Laden, in the war against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

Karzai’s deputy spokesman, Hamed Elmi has confirmed that the delegation is from the Hizb-i-Islami group, headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The movement has organised numerous deadly attacks in Afghanistan, killing numbers of NATO troops. It has now submitted its peace plan.

Elmi said that Hekmatyar was in Kabul with a delegation for a series of serious talks.

Elmi continued that the government now had the peace plan, and was studying it carefully. Its bottom line is the willingness of Hekmatyar to form a coalition government with Karzai once foreign troops withdraw from the country.

Spokesmen for the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar group have also emerged to confirm the meetings with President Karzai, and to say that the delegation was also meeting with members of the government and leaders of other political movements and factions.

President Karzai is planning a peace jirga, or assembly, for the end of April and is issuing invitations to a number of insurgent groups as well as to representatives of different factions in parliament and Afghan society.

Abdul Jabar Sholgar, a member of parliament representing a moderate offshoot of Hezb-i-Islami, said that the proposal also sought a halt to military operations against Afghans and the establishment of an interim government as soon as foreign troops withdrew, to be followed by new elections.

Hekmatyar’s previous career is not being held against him.

Not only did he serve the interests of the US to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan, he also served as Afghan prime minister before the Taleban takeover in 1996 and led one of four factions that all but destroyed the city of Kabul in the early 1990s in incessant civil wars. He is an old hand at tribal warfare.

The Afghan President Hamid Karzai meanwhile has gone to China. His mission is to urge China to use its weight to help to get the Pakistani ruling class on board his peace process.

Karzai is to meet Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao.

He has already secured the support of the Iranian leader, President Amadinejad, during the latter’s recent visit to Kabul, for the peace offensive with the Taleban.

The Pakistani leadership is said to be disturbed at the pace of the peace movement, and to have shown it by arresting half a dozen Taleban figures who were talking to Karzai.

The UN representative in the area declared that the arrest ruined the peace talks that the UN had been having with the Taleban notables for the last 18 months.

Karzai hopes that the Chinese leaders will intervene with Pakistan to bring its leaders into line.

Others say that Pakistan does not want any rivals for influence over the Taleban, and that it will prolong the war.

Only a completely disoriented British ruling class could find some virtue in prolonging the Afghan agony. British workers must demand the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Middle East. There will be no peace in the region or anywhere else until imperialism is overthrown both at home and abroad.