Islamabad, Nov 4(ANI): Pakistan's role in initiating a secret meeting between Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and three Taliban leaders in an effort to weaken the Haqqani network may allow Islamabad more influence in the region as the United States prepares to leave next year.
The meeting, held in Kabul two weeks ago, was attended by Maulvi Abdul Kabir, a wanted former Taliban governor, his deputy Sedre Azam and Anwarul Haq Mujahed, an imprisoned terrorist, who were flown to the Afghan capital from Peshawar.
Kabir was the governor of Nangarhar province during the Taliban rule and the current head of the Taliban's Peshawar council, while Mujahed is a terrorist leader credited with helping Osama Bin Laden escape the US assault on Tora Bora in 2001.
Mujahed has been in Pakistani custody since June last year when he was picked up in a raid in Peshawar.
Rifaat Hussain, a militancy expert at the Quaid-i-Azam University, said that there now appears to be "an effort to co-opt all those elements who are willing to play ball with Karzai, which include the core Haqqani group and even those who hold a position of influence."
He believes that such an outcome would be favored by Pakistan, which has long resisted calls to tackle the Al-Qaeda affiliated group in North Waziristan.
He further claims that the US' move to talk to Kabir may be a vindication of Pakistan's long-time policy to end the conflict.
"There is a certain duality in the American approach: on the one hand they are talking to Haqqani and on the other they are also asking Pakistan to take them on, which Islamabad finds baffling," the Christian Science Monitor quoted Hussain, as saying.
The US and Afghanistan are reportedly seeking to capitalize on Kabir's position in Afghanistan's powerful and dominant Zadran tribe.
An Afghan official said that Washington and Kabul want to try and sap some of Haqqani's tribal-based strength by bringing Kabir on board and dividing tribal loyalties.
Karzai has formed a 70-member High Peace Council in an effort to try to reconcile with the Taliban and find a political solution to the insurgency. (ANI)