A leading Western newspaper reported Friday that the Afghan government plans to suspend an effort to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, just a week after the top Afghan peace negotiator was assassinated.
The Wall Street Journal quoted the deputy national-security adviser to President Hamid Karzai, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, as saying the government had decided to cancel a meeting among senior U.S., Pakistan and Afghan officials. The session was called to discuss ways to bring insurgents into peace talks aimed at ending Afghanistan's decade-long conflict. The meeting had been scheduled to take place on October 8.
The meeting's reported cancellation follows the killing of former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was killed by a suicide bomber at his home in Kabul on September 20. The suicide bomber used a fake peace message from the Taliban to gain access to Rabbani.
On Wednesday, President Karzai met with senior government officials, including his two vice presidents, Mohammad Qasim Fahim and Mohammed Karim Khalili, along with former commanders of the mujahideen forces who fought Soviet troops after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, to discuss the future of peace talks with the Taliban.
Karzai's office said in a statement following the meeting that despite efforts over three years to broker peace with the insurgents, the Taliban had "martyred" religious leaders, tribal elders "women and children, old and young."
Karzai's office also said that despite efforts by the Afghan government to improve relations with Pakistan, the Pakistani government has not taken any measures to close down "its terrorist safe havens nor prevented the training and equipping of terrorists on its soil."
The White House has accused Pakistan's government of having "links" with the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida-linked Afghan militant group, which it says has safe havens in Pakistan's North Waziristan region.
Last week, the outgoing chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network a "veritable arm" of the ISI, Pakistan's main intelligence agency.
Pakistan's government has categorically denied the allegations.