By Saeed Shah and Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan and Pakistan are moving ahead quickly with a new Afghan government plan that envisions peace with the Taliban by 2015, holding a summit in Turkey and working with the United States and Britain on streamlining the U.N. terrorist blacklisting system so that Afghan insurgents can be given safe passage for direct negotiations with Kabul.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, second from right, meets with commanders before a dinner with them at International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan | Susan Walsh/AP
Negotiations on the blacklisting procedures, which have been taking place in New York ahead of a vote to renew the U.N. system before it expires next week, could effectively give legal space and international legitimacy to the Taliban’s political wing.
“We need a ban on insurgents, not the Taliban per se,” said a diplomat in Islamabad familiar with the negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “We need something more helpful, more flexible, tweak the language and allow the Taliban to name negotiators who can travel.”