An opportunity for peace talks with the Taliban

View from Kabul
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The Independent Online

Killing Osama bin Laden might be a coup for America, but in the view of Mullah Hamidullah, the slight imam at Kabul's Haji Yaqub mosque, this should be just the beginning.

To "ease the suffering of the Afghan people," he wants to see the remaining sides of what he calls the "vicious triangle" of al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and Pakistan's top spy agency, the ISI, annihilated: "If the US can destroy... the ISI, then the problem will be solved."

And though most Afghans expressed the sentiment more moderately, many pointed the finger at Pakistan. For years, the West's enemy was lurking, not in mud houses in the Afghan countryside, but in Pakistan. Finding out that bin Laden had been killed in a million-dollar compound near Islamabad was vindication. "This terrorist network is in Pakistan, and Pakistan is the mother of this terrorist network," said retired Army captain Mohammad Yosuf.

President Hamid Karzai used the occasion to make veiled attacks on both Pakistan and the West. "The war against terrorism is in its sources – in its financial sources, its sanctuaries, in its training bases – not in Afghanistan," he said.

The Taliban, meanwhile, greeted the news with uncharacteristic silence, and by last night had issued no statement on bin Laden's death. But it had certainly registered – within a couple of hours of the announcement that bin Laden was dead, Taliban commanders were texting each other that: "A brave soldier of God was martyred. God grant him mercy."

But the hope is that Afghan peace talks with on-off allies the Taliban will now become a more realistic prospect.

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