‘Taliban may go for secret deal with US’

Talks with the Taliban broke down following the assassination of Kabul`s chief peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani in September.

New York: Afghan officials are concerned
that the Taliban may make a possible "secret deal" with the US
as they expressed worries on not being kept in the loop fully
about the direction of the peace talks, including whether
Pakistan will be involved in the negotiations.

Groundwork is underway for US resuming preliminary
talks with the Taliban, which had announced opening a
political office in Qatar.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai`s chief of staff Abdul
Karim Khurram has however expressed concern about the American
role in the talks with the Taliban, complaining that Afghan
officials were not being kept well informed and worried about
the possibility that the Taliban might make "a secret deal"
with the US, a report in the New York Times said.

"We have been briefed regularly by the Americans,
but we don`t know all the details," Khurram said.
"We demand more clarity."

Khurram said the Afghans also wanted to know the
role Pakistan could play in the talks, given that the
Taliban`s top leaders live in Pakistan and their travel to
Qatar would have to be facilitated by Pakistani officials.

"We asked the Americans whether Pakistan will share
in this process. They didn`t give us a meaningful answer," he
said. Khurram said Pakistan cancelling a visit by US
special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc
Grossman also did not bode well for the peace process.

"Pakistan`s role is important in the peace process
and in particular about this Qatar office issue; I don`t know,
when he (Grossman) can`t go there, how it will affect the

The report said Khurram repeatedly expressed concern
about the possibility of "une affaire cachee," or some sort of
secret or separate deal between the Americans and the Taliban.

"We think if it`s not Afghan-led, the peace process
will not be fruitful," he said.

"In case there were a secret deal, we would be
concerned about it. If it`s about the peace process, then we
are not worried."