Saturday, September 12, 2009

'I told the US to talk to the Taliban. They jailed me'

The West must start negotiating with Afghanistan's Islamists, the former foreign minister tells Kim Sengupta

The Independent
Saturday, 12 September 2009

"He was the man they called the mullah with a human face, the internet mullah, or the Rudolph Hess of the Taliban. Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil was the Taliban's foreign minister. It was he who in October 2001, a month after 9/11 and weeks before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, broke ranks with the hardline clerical leadership and tried to broker a peace deal with Washington.

Eight years on, as the West struggles to form a coherent policy on Afghanistan amid mounting domestic opposition to the war, Mullah Muttawakil has claimed that the West has repeatedly squandered chances for peace.

"We have seen a lot of fighting since then, a lot of blood has been spilt, all for what?" he asked. "They are saying now that they will talk to some of the Taliban. That is what I said to them just after the war. I offered to put them in touch with the relevant people. Their answer was to put me in jail."......"

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