Kabul (Afghanistan), Mar.19 (ANI): The Government of Afghanistan has reportedly opened preliminary negotiations with the country's most dangerous rebel faction, the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, which has been accused of masterminding some of the most brazen attacks in recent years.
"If the Haqqanis can be drawn into the negotiation process, it would be a serious sign that the insurgents are open to one day making a deal," the Christian Science Monitor quoted " Kabul-based political analyst Waheed Muzjda, as saying.
The Haqqani network is one of three major insurgent groups here, the other two being the Taliban and the Hizb-i-Islami-Gulbuddin (HIG).
Of these, the Haqqanis have orchestrated the majority of the major suicide bombings in Kabul and have significant influence in the southeastern provinces. The group counts many foreign fighters among its ranks and is much closer to Al Qaeda than the other groups, according to US intelligence officials.
Preliminary talks between the Afghan government and various insurgent groups have been taking place for months.
In September, government officials and a group of former Taliban members met in Mecca.
The former Taliban agreed to act as intermediaries between government and the insurgents, and met regularly with government representatives in Afghanistan and in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
In the subsequent months, the mediating group began to contact the Taliban leadership and the heads of the Haqqani network.
"We've contacted the Haqqanis indirectly. They were open to hearing our proposals to a settlement," said a member of the mediation team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The mediators have reportedly drafted a road map for an eventual settlement.
In the first stage, the Haqqani network should stop burning schools and targeting reconstruction teams, and the US military should stop house raids and release Haqqani-network prisoners.
Representatives of the Haqqani network have agreed in principle to the road map as a starting point for negotiations. But the specifics may change as talks proceed.
The draft proposal states that if these conditions were met on both sides, the next step would be to agree on a system of government.
The Haqqani network and the Taliban say they want an "Islamic Emirate" based solely on their interpretation of Islamic law, or sharia.
The government currently is an "Islamic Republic," where versions of sharia and a parliamentary republic coexist.
The final stage of the proposal would be setting a deadline for the withdrawal of foreign forces. (ANI)