According to the McClatchy news service, which first reported the peace plan, Afghan leaders want Pakistan to play the leading role in the peace negotiations, supplanting that of the United States. Last week, meeting in Turkey, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the provisions of the accord that had been worked out last month by lower-ranking officials. High on the agenda of the meeting in Ankara was the December 6th assassination attempt against Afghanistan’s staunchly anti-Pakistan chief of intelligence, Asadullah Khalid. After the attack, Karzai blamed Pakistan for the attack, and it’s entirely possible that elements of Pakistan’s security establishment opposed to an accord may have ordered it in order to disrupt any reconciliation.
That’s why a peace plan’s success will be exceedingly difficult. Political factions on all sides bitterly oppose an agreement. In Afghanistan, forces associated with the old Northern Alliance don’t want the Taliban to have any role in a rebalanced government, and they’re reportedly rearming for a civil war after the United States departs. Hardliners in Pakistan don’t want to make any concessions that could undermine what they see as Islamabad’s necessary primacy in Afghanistan. The Taliban itself is divided over whether or not to take part in negotiations, and it chafes under what many Taliban leaders and foot soldiers see as the groups dependence on Pakistan’s ISI, the military’s powerful intelligence service.
In their talks in Ankara, however, Karzai and Zardari insisted that the peace process move forward and pledged to open a joint investigation of this month’s assassination attempt. “They (terrorists) don't want us, the governments, to get together and to be able to lead the nations to peace,” said Zardari after the two men met.