The Taliban have reached out to former President Hamid Karzai and to Russia in an attempt to fulfill their pledge to form an “inclusive” government and defeat holdouts against their rule, amid deadly mayhem outside Kabul’s airport, with thousands of terrified Afghans trying to flee. Little in the Taliban’s history suggests any readiness to compromise on their harsh Islamist principles or to share power, but the US has warned the militant group that going it alone will result in continuous conflict and isolation. In this context, Karzai, who led the county from 2001 to 2014, has tried to put himself forward as a mediator, albeit one under increasingly strained circumstances.
Karzai, 63, who as president fell out with the US over American drone attacks, corruption accusations and other issues, has met with Taliban leaders, including Khalil Haqqani, whom the US has designated as a terrorist. Karzai is also working closely with Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the former Afghan’s government’s peace delegation. A Taliban leader described as the acting governor of Kabul talked over the weekend with Karzai and Abdullah. A growing number of senior Taliban have been seen in Kabul in recent days to discuss the shape of the next government, among them Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s chief diplomat, who was a senior official in the group’s government in the 1990s.
A delegation of Taliban leaders also visited the Russian embassy in Kabul, asking officials there to pass along an offer of negotiations to a group of Afghan leaders holding out in northern Afghanistan, the Russian ambassador, Dmitri Zhirnov, told Russian television on Saturday. Karzai’s position is tenuous. Both he and Abdullah were on a Taliban list of wanted people, and former government officials said they were concerned for their safety.
How the US will view Karzai’s re-emergence is unclear. So, too, is whether Afghans will be convinced by the sudden professed moderation of the Taliban. A week after the Taliban overran the country and the two-decade long American attempt to shape a democratic Afghanistan collapsed, there was no sign of any cabinet taking form.
Taliban pledge inclusivity as transition talks begin – Times of India