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Taliban 'could govern parts of Afghanistan' under new peace deal

Observers remain sceptical of an early breakthrough or that any one of a number of proposals in ciculation can be implemented.

By and Ben Farmer | The Telegraph | 11 Dec 2012

The blueprint, obtained by the McClatchy news agency and confirmed by a source close to the talks, would also see Islamabad take over Washington's role in co-ordinating talks between insurgents and the government in Kabul.

Pakistan has long been viewed as a hindrance to peace, accused of backing insurgents in order to maintain influence in their backyard. However analysts and diplomats increasingly believe it is becoming a more positive influence.

Details of the proposals emerged ahead of talks due to start on Tuesday between the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in Turkey. The talks are being held to resolve a row after Kabul claimed an attack against its spy chief was planned in Pakistan.

Drafted by the Afghan High Peace Council, set up by President Karzai to co-ordinate talks, the "Peace Process Roadmap to 2015" sees Pakistan taking over from America's stalled peace efforts, with direct negotiations between the starting next year.

"By 2015, Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami and other armed groups will have given up armed opposition, transformed from military entities into political parties, and are actively participating in the country's political and constitutional processes, including national elections," says the plan, according to McClatchy.

"NATO/ISAF forces will have departed from Afghanistan, leaving the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) as the only legitimate armed forces delivering security and protection to the Afghan population."

It also proposes allowing senior insurgents to become cabinet members and provincial governors, conferring significant power on militant commanders.

However, observers remain sceptical of an early breakthrough or that any one of a number of proposals in ciculation can be implemented.

Imtiaz Gul, an analyst in Islamabad, said: "There's a long way to go before presidential elections in 2014 and the pull-out of troops. There are still a lot of ifs and buts."

Afghan leaders and Western diplomats in Kabul said they had witnessed a welcome shift in Pakistan's attitude to securing peace over the past six months.

The agreement to release some Taliban prisoners last month and hold a council of influential Pakistani clerics early next year with the aim of denouncing suicide bombings have both been viewed as helpful.

But cautious optimism has been tempered by the assassination attempt last week on Asadullah Khalid, head of the Afghan intelligence service. Mr Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said the attempt was planned in Pakistan.

"The quality of the conversation with Pakistan has been completely different," said one Afghan official familiar with contacts.

"We have seen for the first time Pakistan taking concrete steps in the peace process.

"Now we have to see if they will deliver on those initial concrete steps, and deliver in a timely manner, not six months from now."


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