On February 20, the Canadian Broadcasting Company reported that U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a Bush holdover, said that the U.S. would be willing to accept a similar deal in Afghanistan if the Swat pact succeeded.
Gates, speaking at last month’s NATO conference in Krakow, Poland said: “If there is a reconciliation, if insurgents are willing to put down their arms, if the reconciliation is essentially on the terms being offered by the government, then I think we would be very open to that. We have said all along that ultimately some sort of political reconciliation has to be part of the long-term solution in Afghanistan.”
Al Jazeera reported February 27, that “secret negotiations are under way to bring troops fighting alongside the Taliban into Afghanistan’s political process.” Negotiations between “Taliban-linked mediators, Western officials and the Afghan government,” might see the return of none other than Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the narcotrafficking leader of the ISI and CIA’s favorite gang during the anti-Soviet jihad, Hezb-i-Islami.
Believed to be directing attacks against NATO and American forces from northwest Pakistan, Hekmatyar “would first be offered asylum in Saudi Arabia, under the proposal being backed by the British government.” Indeed, Al Jazeera reveals the talks have progressed to the point that
Ghairat Baheer, one of Hekmatyar’s two son-in-laws released from the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan in May last year after six years in custody, is involved in the process, according to reports.
Baheer, an ambassador to Pakistan in the 1990s, was given a visa to travel to London by British authorities last month.
Humayun Jarir, a Kabul-based politician and son-in-law of Hekmatyar, is also said to have been involved. (“Secret talks with Taliban under way,” Al Jazeera, February 27, 2009)
According to The New York Times, “several American investigators said senior officials at the D.E.A. and the office of the Director of National Intelligence complained to them that the White House favored a hands-off approach toward Ahmed Wali Karzai because of the political delicacy of the matter.”