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Are Taliban ready for peace talks with West?

Last Updated: Monday, August 13, 2012 - 14:58

London: Taliban leaders appear to be reaching out to the West in an attempt to kick-start peace talks on the future of Afghanistan, documents have revealed.

The Sunday Times received a three-page policy paper written in Pashtu, which contained assurances about the education of women and the future of the Afghan Army, reports the Daily Times.

"Women are also a big part of our human society. The Islamic emirate will create a level ground for women’s education in light of its constitution," the document reads.

It also described the Afghan Army as effective in "guaranteeing national security", but warned that it would "prohibit" the military from meddling in politics.

The paper also emphasised opposition to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

"We condemn terrorism ... and consider it our duty to fight terrorism and corruption. Our poor nation is the victim of this terrorism," it said.

A go between claiming to have links to the Quetta Shura, the Taliban leadership council allegedly based in Pakistan, is said to have passed the document to the newspaper.

According to experts, the paper reflects current Taliban thinking.

They said it was an indicator of debates taking place within the movement, particularly on the issue of whether and how to hold democratic elections following the Arab Spring.

The paper shows a clear desire by the Taliban to enter a political process when NATO combat troops complete their withdrawal at the end of 2014, and sets out a plan for an electoral system, which, it says, would ensure fair representation for minority ethnic groups.

It signals a big turnabout on issues such as education, the experts said.

According to Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani author and analyst, there have been "numerous public signals" from the Taliban in the past three months that suggest willingness to get back round the negotiating table.


First Published: Monday, August 13, 2012 - 14:58

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