Afghanistan: Talks only with moderate Afghan Taliban, Zannini says

world | Jan 05, 2012 | By Asia News

Kabul – “Talks with the Taliban are necessary for the peace process in Afghanistan. However, prudence is required. The international community and the Afghan government must carefully choose their interlocutors and only deal with moderates,” said Francesco Zannini, who teaches at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) in Rome. He spoke to AsiaNews about the Taliban’s decision to open a liaison office in Qatar and accept talks with the United States.

Such an opening would be a turning point in the West’s international stance, which for years stood as an adversary of Muslim extremism, the professor said.

“For radical movements, joining a democratic system could provide an opportunity for change. This is happening in North Africa with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he explained. “The international community must however put pressure to ensure respect for human rights and religious freedom and should not bend to their will.”

However, many in Afghanistan are baffled by the overture towards Muslim extremists, local sources told AsiaNews, especially by President Hamid Karzai’s support for the move.

Since he came to power in 2005, he has always opposed talks with the guerrillas, and responded coldly to the news. For the sources, talks with extremists are crucial to stop the war, but the United States cannot play with people’s lives.

“Negotiations make sense only if the Taliban have changed their views and the Afghan government is really willing to negotiate,” the sources explained. “Giving the guerrillas privileges and power in exchange for cooperation could lead to new tensions.” (S.C.)



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