Home Contact Us  

Terrorism - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3446, 5 September 2011
Af-Pak Diary: Will Mullah Omar Negotiate? What is Taliban's End Game?
D Suba Chandran
Director, IPCS & Visting Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia,
email: subachandran@gmail.com

With the 2014 deadline approaching fast, both US and Pakistan have their end games unraveling in Afghanistan. While, both have been fooling the rest of the world in projecting a moderate, if not a good image of Taliban, it is important to analyze what will be Taliban’s game plan? Will it negotiate with the US and (or through) Pakistan and what will it negotiate on? 

First, the most important question – who is being talked to? While one may be cynical about new factions in the Taliban, the idea of negotiating with any of these sections should be welcome. The reasons for this are simple. One, the deadline is fast approaching; clearly, there is no end game in sight in reference to Karzai and his administration. Neither has he been able to deliver in terms of administration or convince the Afghans of his ability to govern, nor is he in a position to protect himself forget protecting the capital. The Afghan security forces are far from having the capacity to take over the security situation and deliver. Moreover, the Afghans no more respect or trust Karzai and his administration. But to be fair, Karzai inherited this problem from the previous administrations and the international security forces that had multiple agendas in Afghanistan.

Second, despite a decade after 9/11, the Taliban’s networks remain intact. Though al Qaeda has been damaged considerably, especially after the killing of its top leadership including Osama bin Laden, Taliban has smartly gone underground and has preserved its leadership. Or perhaps, the global war on terrorism was al Qaeda specific, keeping the Taliban as a secondary target which has helped it to escape. Third, irrespective of the rupture between Pakistan’s links with the TTP, its relation and influence vis-à-vis the Afghan Taliban seem to be continuing.

The question then is whether the Afghan Taliban is willing to negotiate? Within the Afghan Taliban – there are two major networks led by the Huqqanis and Mullah Omar. Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura, as the name suggests is alleged to be based in Pakistan and conducting operations primarily in Afghanistan. There is no adequate evidence to prove that Mullah Omar is interested in taking on Pakistan’s security forces and looking east of the Durand Line, so far. It appears he is using Pakistan only as a base and is aiming to get back to Kabul

While Washington is working hard to bring Mullah Omar on board, it appears except for few regional commanders (war lords to be specific), who joined the Taliban in the later phase, Omar’s network does not seem to be in a hurry to negotiate with the US. At the time of 9/11, not the entire Taliban leadership belonged to the diehard Mullah Omar network. As his forces started winning towns after towns in the mid 1990s, many of the erstwhile mujahideens and local war lords embraced the Taliban phenomenon and became converts. The reasons were purely tactical and not based on any loyalty or love for the Taliban. This conversion suited them in the 1990s; ten years after 9/11, another conversion will not hurt them. This is evident in the fact that there is not a single mujahideen leader, except perhaps for the Lion of Panchsheer, who can claim that his loyalties never changed.

The Mullah Omar network seems to be convinced that the American exit will automatically pave way for their takeover of Kabul. Even if the US has to leave a small contingent, it is unlikely that the American troops will continue active counter insurgency operations against the Taliban after 2014. Thus, Mullah Omar would rather wait until 2014, and restart his campaign from Kandhahar, as he did in the 1990s. This should be déjà vu for him and his network. If few commanders of him are willing to negotiate with the US, perhaps it is a part of the plan.

On the other hand, the Huqqani network seems to be under great influence from Pakistan’s security forces. Unlike the Omar network, the Huqqanis may not be able to survive either in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. According to media reports within Pakistan, the Huqqani network has already shifted into the FATA region. Taking over Kabul by being Pakistan’s proxy in Afghanistan may not hurt the Huqqanis; but an independent functioning might.

Clearly, the Huqqani network has to be the moderate face of Taliban, for they are willing to negotiate. But, will the Huqqanis be able to deliver along with Karzai after 2014? Or will they join Mullah Omar network after 2014? They are being Pakistan’s proxy now; but who are they likely to play for after 2014? This is a dilemma that still needs to be addressed. If the Obama administration is not serious about what will happen after 2014 that will be the biggest disservice to the victims of 9/11 and those who gave their lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan since then. Obama is extremely busy, getting ready to deliver another rhetoric and self-patting speech ten years after 9/11. And why not? After all, did he not eliminate the US enemy number one?

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Will the Genie Want to Go Back?

The Fall of Rajapaksa: Why Democracies Fail Strongmen

Pakistan: The Military Courts

From Kashmir to Kabul

A Fractured Mandate: The Big Picture

And Now, They Are Coming For Our Children

Pak-Afghan Reset: Will the Taliban and al Qaeda follow?

Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues

Rise India, avoid regional pitfalls

Foreign Fighters of Pakistan: Why Pashtuns and Punjabis?

Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?

The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping: Strong Leaders, Hard Issues

Pakistan: The Coup that didn’t take

Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis

Processes at the cost of peace?

Cost of Peace

Rise of Democratic Anarchists

Don’t steal the election now

Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the “Eliminate or Extradite” Approach

The Tahirul Qadri Affair

Dhaka as the Gateway to India’s Look East Policy

Modi, Sharif and the Cross-LoC Interactions

Region by Sub-regions

Civil-Military Equations in Pakistan: Que Sera Sera

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.