Karzai met Kayani, ISI chief for `talks` with Haqqani: Report

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has met al-Qaeda-linked militant commander Sirajuddin Haqqani along with Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the ISI boss for "face-to-face talks".

Updated: Jun 27, 2010, 22:55 PM IST

Islamabad: Afghanistan President Hamid
Karzai has met al-Qaeda-linked militant commander Sirajuddin
Haqqani along with Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani and the ISI boss for "face-to-face talks", Al-Jazeera
channel reported today.

The channel quoted its sources as saying that the
meeting took place in Kabul a few days ago.

Haqqani, whose network is based in the volatile North
Waziristan tribal region in northwest Pakistan, was
accompanied by Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

Al-Jazeera said Karzai has met Haqqani along with
Kayani and the ISI boss Pasha for "face-to-face talks".

Afghan media too had reported that such secret
meetings were taking place and that Karzai is actively trying
to hammer out a deal with groups opposed to his government,
Al-Jazeera said.

The Haqqani network is among the pro-Pakistan militant
groups based in North Waziristan and Islamabad has been
reluctant to launch military operations in the region despite
considerable pressure from Washington.

Karzai`s office denied today that any such meeting
took place.

Pakistan’s chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar
Abbas said he had "no knowledge of such a meeting taking
place".

The Haqqani network is also described by the US as one
of three main anti-government militant groups operating in
Afghanistan. It is thought to be responsible for the most
sophisticated attacks in Kabul and across Afghanistan.

Reports about Karzai`s meeting with Haqqani have
fuelled increased speculation in Kabul that Pakistan is trying
to strike a deal in Afghanistan that would safeguard its
interests in the country.

Observers believe Karzai is cosying up with Pakistan
because the US war effort in Afghanistan is floundering and
the White House plans to start withdrawing troops by July
2011.

The meeting might also be the reason behind the
forced resignation earlier this month of the Afghan Interior
Minister Hanif Atmar and intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh,
who are hard-core opponents of the Taliban.

PTI