Despite last week’s Taliban attack on the Presidential Palace in Kabul, the government will pursue reconciliation efforts with the organization, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced on Saturday.
Covering the June 29 press conference in Kabul with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Pahjwok Afghan News writes: “‘We know what the people want: we want peace and stability in Afghanistan,’ said the president, who tended to downplay the incident. He asked the insurgents to spare the people and government institutions.”
The Taliban has made no secret of its intent to pursue diplomatic and violent means simultaneously, in its dealing with the Karzai government. Even the organization’s diplomatic efforts have been contentious to date. Even before they could begin, talks with the government stalled when the Taliban publicly opened its Doha office by flying the flag used when the group officially ruled Afghanistan, playing its old national anthem, and displaying a sign reading the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the country’s name under the Taliban government.
The international community supported President Karzai when he announced that the organization’s posturing as a pseudo-government made talks impossible. Just days after declaring the government would not participate in talks until these public symbols were removed, Karzai recommitted to negotiations, with American encouragement.
The Taliban’s brazen posturing and terrorist attack on the Presidential Palace appear to be designed to demonstrate the government’s weakness. Negotiations may be a way forward despite popular opinion in Afghanistan that the government should not sit down with the Taliban. It appears, however, that the United States and, presumably, the Afghan government see no alternative.