The Taliban have announced that they want to open an office in the Gulf region, mentioning Qatar as a possible site. This is obviously controversial since the Taliban are formally at war with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nato and the ISAF (which includes UAE forces). Therefore such an office should not be used as a gathering point for funds to fuel either the Taliban’s fighting or their allies in Al Qaeda.

But if the office is to facilitate the essential future dialogue with the Taliban, then it is a step in the right direction. It is right that Nato and the Afghan government want to talk to the Taliban to find ways to secure a political ending to the decade-long war in Afghanistan. It has become obvious that Nato cannot bomb the Afghan people into peace. The only way that peace can be found is for all parties in the region to accept the others and work to build a mutual way forward under the constitution of Afghanistan which ensures mutual respect for individuals.

At some stage, the Taliban will have to split. It has become clear that the Taliban is an umbrella organisation that covers a wide range of opinion among the Pashtun people of Afghanistan. Some members of the Taliban are very close to Al Qaeda and have worked with them for decades, going back to when the Taliban formed the government of Afghanistan and gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda. These people will not want peace with Nato and are looking forward to their total defeat.

But other Pashtuns have been driven to join the Taliban by the excesses of Nato’s campaign, which has included regular killing of civilians in the search for Taliban targets. However, in the past year, well over 3,000 Taliban fighters have left their detachments and gone home to seek peace. These men are symbols of what Afghanistan needs: which is a return to peace.

–Gulf New editorial