US Must Talk With Taliban: Pakistan Official

Frontier governor says insurgents have place in peace efforts
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2008 2:42 PM CDT
Owais Ahmed Ghani, governor of Pakistan's North West Frontier province, says the US must bring the Taliban to the table to have a real chance at regional stability.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The governor of Pakistan’s tribal region says the US must negotiate with the Taliban if it hopes to bring peace to Afghanistan. “They have to talk to Mullah Omar, certainly—not maybe,” Owais Ghani told the Telegraph, referring to the group’s leader. “Political stability will only come when all political power groups, irrespective of the length of their beards, are given their just due.”

Ghani is the most prominent figure in Pakistan to suggest such a thing, and the statement is sure to cause waves. Pakistan’s ruling party opposes the Taliban, but the West has accused Pakistan’s military hardliners of secretly supporting the movement. Ghani also suggested the US negotiate with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, former US-backed anti-Soviet militants who now fight coalition forces in Afghanistan.