Karzai's strange antics blamed on secret talks with Taleban

opinion February 09, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Maybe the US and Western allies should do a security deal with the new govt after the poll in April

Afghan President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been holding secret peace talks with the Taleban without the involvement of the US and his Western allies.
Peace may be a noble thing but given the circumstances, it is fair to ask what Karzai is really up to.
The US and a number of Western countries have poured in billions of dollars and huge resources to help the country achieve stability and peace. Although the job is far from over, these foreign powers must be wondering if their efforts mean anything if Karzai keeps his peace cards close to his chest.
From Washington’s perspective, the secret talks with the Taleban helped explain Karzai’s erratic actions that have upset Western allies. Besides refusing to sign a long-term security agreement with the US in spite of an endorsement from the country’s elders and tribal leaders – the loya jirga – his other disturbing moves include releasing hardened Taleban militants from prisons. There were other vicious claims suggesting that ‘collateral damage’ by US and Nato forces was deliberate.
Beside the continued presence of US and foreign troops in Afghanistan after 2014, Karzai is holding billions of dollars in aid hostage with his foot dragging.
Given the circumstances, it appears Karzai is reaching out to the Taleban for his own survival. The vicious allegations, it seems, was done to please the Taleban and gain come political capital and bolster his legacy as a two-time president whose term is ending in coming months. 
But one has to give the credit to the Taleban for making considerable progress in pushing the Afghan-US ties to the current low ebb. There is nothing to suggest that the Taleban is serious about peace with Karzai’s government. 
While Karzai may be concerned with his legacy, trading the security of his country is nothing more than a selfish act. Karzai may think he has nothing to lose by destroying his relationship with the US, the outcome may translate into more serious security woes for his people. 
Instead of coming to terms with reality – that the Taleban’s killing of civilians is much, much higher than US airstrikes – Karzai appeared to be more determine to demonise the US and the Western nations with troops on the ground. And if he thinks the US and Nato are try?ing to undermine the security of his country, he needs to come up with evidence and tell them to leave Afghanistan. But moaning about it and playing into the Taleban does gross disservice to the people of Afghanistan.
Instead of hoping to get Karzai to sign a post-2014 security deal, perhaps Washington and its allies should hold out and wait till the next government comes to power in three months time. The election is set for April 5. There may be some setback, of course, considering the time and energy invested in talks about an agreement. But it doesn’t mean the US and Western allies have to reinvent the wheel.