Afghans Skeptical of Karzai's Plan to Negotiate With Taliban

Will negotiations with Taliban finally bring about peace in Afghanistan?

ByABC News
February 1, 2010, 7:47 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 1, 2010 -- There is a growing consensus in Afghanistan that the government must negotiate with the Taliban to end the long running insurgency, but there is also widespread skepticism that President Hamid Karzai's current offer to low level Taliban fighters will work.

''This is upside down," former Taliban ambassador to the U.N., Abdul Hakim Mujahid told ABC News.

Mujahid believes that in order for a plan such as this one to work, Karzai should be approaching the leaders at the top level of the Taliban leadership and not the foot soldiers.

Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Afghanistan independent human rights commission, doubts Karzai's plan will achieve much because it is confusing and lacks clear and transparent guidelines.

'Nobody knows the mechanism, there are conflicting reports through media and that is more confusing for the public, rather than giving them a lot of information,'' Samar told ABC News.

Karzai trumpeted his plan to reach out to Taliban fighters last week at the London conference on Afghanistan last week. Karzai invited them to a peace council in the hope of reaching a meaningful and lasting settlement. The plan includes offering fighters an incentive including money and a job to lay down their arms. He believes he will be able to convince them to switch sides.

The top U.S. leader in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McCrystal concurs with this peace plan. At a briefing recently, McCrystal said, ''We don't want to tell them we are going to crush everyone one of you and kill every one of you, because we're not. We're going to try to work an accommodation so they can come back into society so long as they come back into the constitution.''

This is a point of view that was supported by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton last week at the conference. Speaking in London, Clinton said ''the starting premise is you don't make peace with your friends. You have to be willing to engage with your enemies if you want to create a situation that ends the insurgency."