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Cablegate: Parliament Asks for Role in Reconciliation Talks

VZCZCXRO9548
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2987 3180419
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 130419Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6139
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 002987

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT ASKS FOR ROLE IN RECONCILIATION TALKS

REF: KABUL 2963

1. (U) Members of Parliament are calling for a formal role in
ongoing reconciliation talks in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Farooq Wardak, recently appointed education minister and a
key player in the Afghan-Pakistani peace jirgas, appeared
before Parliament's Lower House Nov. 12 to explain the
government's outreach to insurgent groups, but faced a stiff
rebuke from legislators who accused the government of
pursuing the talks outside of legal channels. Some MPs, like
many segments of Afghan society (reftel), are worried the
government will make concessions to insurgent groups
unwilling to respect the Constitution or that will refuse to
disarm and recognize the sovereignty of the central
government.

2. (U) MPs, mostly non-Pashtuns, said during the Nov. 12
plenary session they did not trust government reconciliation
efforts that included only negotiators close to President
Karzai. Ustad Mohammad Akbari (Bamyan, Hazara) complained to
Wardak that Karzai was telling foreign governments, including
the US, more about the talks than he told the Afghan
legislature. Fawzia Koofi (Badakhshan, Tajik) said by
comparison to the Pakistani parliament, Afghanistan's MPs
were largely left out of the discussions. MPs asked Wardak
to include input from Parliament in the government's
reconciliation strategy ahead of future rounds of talks with
the Taliban, HIG, or other insurgent groups.

3. (SBU) Wardak's response to the criticism has been less
than conciliatory. He told MPs the executive branch was
pursuing its own agenda without the involvement of
legislators because Parliament hadn't passed any law
requiring the government to do otherwise. He added that the
negotiations are informal by default, since insurgent leaders
such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar of HIG and Mullah Omar of the
Taliban are not participating directly in the talks. The
government's response to Parliament's concerns is unlikely to
satisfy its critics and could trigger more alarm among
non-Pashtuns who contend that Karzai is pursuing
reconciliation against the interests of northern ethnic
groups in order to improve his support for reelection among
his fellow Pashtuns.
WOOD

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