by Editor (Editor's Desk, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 12, Jumada' al-Ula', 1440)
There is rich irony in the way American officials — political and military — have made a beeline to Islamabad seeking help in bringing the Taliban back to the negotiating table. Until recently, Washington warlords were insulting Pakistan for living on the American dole giving nothing in return.
The US State Department’s point man for Afghanistan, the Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, a hardcore neocon, has been cooling his heels in Islamabad waiting for the Taliban to show up for talks. They told him to go fly a kite!
The Taliban have held three rounds of talks with him but what irked them was his threat in Kabul that if they did not sit down to talk with the US-appointed Kabul regime, the Americans would fight them. This was a huge blunder that Khalilzad, also an Afghan, should have known to avoid. You do not threaten an Afghan, especially a Pashtun.
From the Taliban point of view, the real sticking points are US insistence on maintaining some forces at military bases in Bagram and Shindand (western Afghanistan). The Taliban have demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, release of Taliban prisoners, and lifting of restrictions on travel. The Taliban also refuse to talk to the US puppet regime in Kabul.
Controlling 60% of territory and making steady military gains, the Taliban do not have to make any concessions. And losers (the US) cannot dictate the terms. They must leave Afghanistan immediately or else.