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December 24, 2001
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Top Taliban leaders seek rapprochement with new interim govt

A K Dhar in Kabul

Some top and middle ranking Taliban leaders are deserting the militia and seeking some form of rapprochement with the new interim regime.

Top most Taliban commander, Jalalludin Haqqani, strongman of the Khost region where key ISI and Al Qaeda camps were located and former minister for frontier region in the Taliban regime drove into Kabul on Sunday night and sought a meeting with the new interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai.

Though Afghan officials were tightlipped about Haqqani's clandestine journey to Kabul, the Peshawar based Afghan Islamic Press agency reported that he had arrived to meet Karzai.

Top government sources, who did not want to be named, said the attempt by some top and middle rung Taliban leadership to seek rapproachement was at the behest of Pakistani authorities which was increasingly feeling isolated in the new Afghan set-up.

Pakistan is feeling isolated as Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar's attempt to have a one-to-one meeting with Karzai after the swearing in ceremony on Saturday failed to come through, since Karzai had a busy schedule.

Sattar was also cold-shouldered by other interim government bigwigs, particularly from the Northern Alliance.

Besides Haqqani, other top Pushtoon commanders, who had earlier refused to be wooed by the US alliance also drove in convoys on Sunday and Monday from Jalalabad, Logar, Gardez, Ghazni and Karzail and key province of Kanadhar.

Till well past midnight, Afghan government sources said Karzai was having discussions with these commanders, who brought with them many Taliban cadre.

The arrival of Taliban and southern commanders comes even as the new government is grappling with the issue of general amnesty mooted by the new prime minister.

Under the move it is proposed to give a general amnesty to all in Afghanistan. But the contentious issue would be what to do with over six to ten thousand foreigners captured during the recent fighting.

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
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For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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