IN OTHER WORDS: Elusive peace

The United States is as much interested in sorting out the Taliban and Al Qaeda as in securing a bailout for Pakistan’s faltering economy. Of course the visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher’s remark at his press conference last week that ‘Friends of Pakistan’ would not “throw money on the table” dominated media coverage.

But that was not the principal purpose of his visit; he was here to warn the government against talking to militants.

Not that the Taliban are a popular entity, it is the rampant killing of innocent people as collateral damage, caused by missile strikes from across the Pak-Afghan border, that is becoming unacceptable. The people ask if President Karzai can offer talks to the Taliban and if British commanders in Helmand can negotiate with the local Taliban fighters why the same is prohibited for Pakistan.

Peace talks with the Taliban fighters should be given the chance. Is it possible that the American official’s insistence that there should be no talks with the Taliban, when viewed in the context of the US presidential election, a mere public posturing? The ground reality,

both in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal region, suggests that the US and its allies in the so-called war on terror are not winning that war.