NATO's escalating Afghan airstrikes aimed at forcing Taliban towards negotiation

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Kabul, Oct 15(ANI): NATO's ever-increasing airstrikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan is believed to be a coordinated effort orchestrated by General David H. Petraeus to force the insurgents and their leaders to negotiate an end to the nine-year war.

According to the New York Times, NATO pounded the Taliban with 2,100 bombs or missiles from June through September, with 700 in September alone.

The records reveal that the figures reveal an increase of nearly 50 percent over the same period last year.

"You've got to put pressure on the networks to get them to start thinking about alternatives to fighting," the newspaper quoted a senior NATO officer in Kabul, as saying.

"We are not at the tipping point yet," he added.

Many officials also believe that the Taliban is showing a willingness to come forward, as they are having trouble coping with increased troop levels and the higher tempo of NATO operations.

"The Taliban are taking losses they can't sustain," said US Colonel Dave Bellon, NATO's chief of operations for southern Afghanistan.

However, Matt Waldman, an independent analyst who has worked extensively in the region, said that the policy could backfire.

"The idea that killing insurgents will take us to negotiations seems pretty doubtful. They have an infinite capacity to regenerate," Waldman said.

Earlier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had confirmed that contact between the Taliban and his administration has been going on unofficially "for quite some time" to try to end the war.

Karzai said that he would negotiate with any insurgents who accept the Afghan constitution and sever links with Al-Qaeda

"We have been talking to the Taliban as countryman to countryman, talk in that manner," Karzai told CNN's Larry King when asked about a Washington Post report on secret high-level talks between the two sides.

"Not as a regular official contact with the Taliban with a fixed address but rather unofficial personal contacts have been going on for quite some time," he added.

Last week the Washington Post had reported that secret talks were being held involving the Afghan government and representatives authorized by the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban group based in Pakistan, and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. (ANI)

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