There is an intensifying quest for negotiations to settle the conflict between the Afghan government and its adversaries. As part of his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, US President Barack Obama has emphasized that political negotiations are critical. Afghan president Karzai, as part of the preparations for the elections in the fall of 2009, have reached out to a number of political rivals, and underlined his willingness to accommodate Taliban leaders. The Afghan council of religious leaders (shura-e ulama) has sent similar signals, and encouraged the United Nations to remove key Taliban leaders from its sanctions list, which they see as an obstacle to dialogue.

All of these initiatives has raised concerns among many Afghans, who are concerned that recently gained liberties will be sold out in some sort of settlement with the Taliban and other armed opposition groups. Others ask whether there is anything new, given that political accommodation has been raised at regular intervals since 2001 to the present, yet never being formulated as a credible political process.

We have invited key Afghan observers to comment on the prospects for conciliation in the current situation, taking as a point of departure a recent report by CMI and PRIOon the issues. We will examine issues such as negotiations and transparency; the role of civil society; local governance and linkages between central and local level accommodation; and accountability for past misdeeds.


  • Orzala Ashraf, founder and director of Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan, Yale World Fellow, advanced degree from University of London
  • Waliullah Rahmani, director of Kabul Center for Strategic Studies, editor of Kabul Direct.

Astri Suhrke, senior researcher at CMI, and one of Norway's leading Afghanistan experts.

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