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Karzai to end Taliban peace talks, focus on Pakistan ties

But will the Afghan president's new drive to negotiate more with Pakistan achieve better results than the Taliban peace talks?

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Meanwhile, the Karzai government has been accused of undercutting other negotiation efforts by allegedly leaking information about Taliban interlocutor Tayeb Agha to the media, which caused talks to collapse between the US and the Islamist organization.

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“The assassination of Rabbani caused the whole peace process to make a 180 degree turn,” says Younas Fakor, an independent political analyst in Kabul. “I believe that Pakistan is the right group to speak with, but … the way that Karzai has raised this issue, I believe his plan will not work. Pakistan will never come forward and start negotiations the way Karzai chose.”

Could allegations spoil talks with Pakistan?

Among most involved with the negotiations, there is a general consensus that they must include Pakistan.

Afghan insurgents have long used Pakistan as a safe haven and a growing number of high-level Afghan and Western officials have accused Pakistan of direct involvement in supporting the insurgency here. This has led to the general perception that you can’t make peace with the Taliban without also negotiating with Pakistan.

However, many observers say while they agree with the sentiment of Karzai’s latest announcement, they worry that he may have already damaged any hope of successful talks by coming forward without a clear plan and making allegations about Pakistani support of the insurgency.

“Afghans never advanced their concern properly. Making allegations is not a good way to improve relations with Pakistan,” says Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist and independent analyst.

While Karzai has yet to announce a specific outline for his new negotiation plan, Mr. Herawi says the president will lay out his new strategy in a speech in the coming days.

Those who’ve already been involved in the peace process say they doubt the new plan will completely ignore talking to the Taliban.

“We’ve included Pakistan and we knew the importance of Pakistan’s role in making peace with the Taliban,” says Mawlawi Shahzada Shahid, a member of parliament from Kunar and a member of the High Peace Council. “But talks with the Taliban are still very important and needed.”

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