1 Insurgent Faction Presents Afghan Peace Plan
March 23, 2010 By CARLOTTA GALL New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — Representatives of a major insurgent faction have presented a formal 15-point peace plan to the Afghan government, the first concrete proposal to end hostilities since President Hamid Karzai said he would make reconciliation a priority after his re-election last year.
The delegation represents fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, 60, one of the most brutal of Afghanistan’s former resistance fighters who leads a part of the insurgency against American, NATO and Afghan forces in the north and northeast of the country.
His representatives met Monday with President Karzai and other Afghan officials in the first formal contact between a major insurgent group and the Afghan government after almost two years of backchannel communications, which diplomats say the United States has supported.
Though the insurgent group, Hezb-i-Islami, or Islamic Party, operates under a separate command from the Taliban, it has links to the Taliban leadership and Al Qaeda and has fought on a common front against foreign forces in Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the delegation, Mohammad Daoud Abedi, said the Taliban, which makes up the bulk of the insurgency, would be willing to go along with the plan if a date was set for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country. Publicly, a Taliban spokesman denied that.
The plan, titled the National Rescue Agreement, a copy of which was given to The New York Times, sets that date as July 2010, with the withdrawal to be completed within six months.
Those dates are ahead of the schedule outlined by President Obama, who set a target of July 2011 to start drawing down American troops. But the representatives said the dates were a starting position and could change.
“This is a start, this is not the word of the Koran that we cannot change it,” Mr. Abedi said.
Despite the Taliban’s hard-line public statement, he also said he...