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Afghan protesters criticize overtures toward Taleban

Source : Amir Shah | AP
KABUL | 05 May 2011

About 2,000 protesters gathered Thursday to criticize President Hamid Karzai’s willingness to start peace talks with the Taleban.

Two former high-ranking Afghan officials, speaking at the protest, said Karzai is wrong to reach out to the Taleban and also was too beholden to neighboring Pakistan — where Osama Bin Laden had been hiding until his death three days ago in a US raid.

We have not forgotten the burning of our homeland and the humiliation of the men and women of Afghanistan,” said former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, referring to the Taleban. “But you (Karzai) are still calling these people ‘brother.’”

Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai’s former foreign minister and his opponent in Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election, said the president was “losing his way.”

“The Taleban are joining with the terrorists by the order of the foreign intelligence, yet everyday Karzai is apologizing to them,” said Abdullah. “The majority of the Afghan people wants peace, but peace at what price? Peace with whom, and for what purpose?”

Karzai and the Obama administration have said they will negotiate with any member of the Taleban who embraces the Afghan constitution, renounces violence and severs ties with Al-Qaeda.

Informal contacts have been made in recent months with high-ranking Taleban figures, but no formal peace talks are under way.

Some Afghans believe that the Taleban will never submit to such conditions and should not be considered a negotiating partner.

Karzai and US diplomats have sought Pakistan’s involvement in peace talks.

However, the Taleban’s long-standing ties with Pakistan and the recent discovery of Bin Laden hiding there has led some to question Pakistan’s commitment to peace in Afghanistan.


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