It is unfortunate that the Afghan peace talks are getting nowhere primarily due to the foolhardiness of President Hamid Karzai. He neither values the flexibility demonstrated by the Taliban in their willingness to talk with the occupiers and Afghan government, nor appreciates Pakistan’s contribution to bringing them to the negotiating table. In fact, he wanted the Afghan-led negotiations to be held in Kabul; however, unwillingly consented to join them at Doha, Qatar.

The Afghan Taliban opened their office in Doha last month and also hoisted the flag during the inauguration ceremony. This infuriated President Karzai and he refused to negotiate with the US on the proposed agreement on the number of troops to stay beyond 2014. Efforts to get the talks off the ground further hit the snag when the Taliban in a reaction to Karzai’s shenanigans temporarily closed the office, protesting against “broken promises” by Washington and Kabul.

Meanwhile, the US administration, frustrated over Karzai’s ruses, indicated considering the option of a total military withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. As the 2014 timeframe for the occupation armies' pullout from Afghanistan approaches, there is a scary feeling of the war-torn country once again being engulfed in a bloody civil war. But, undeterred, both the leaderships in Washington and Kabul are playing games with each other.

The Obama administration wants a maximally safe passage for US army's retreat in order to minimise the impact of its humiliating defeat at the hands of the warring Taliban. So, it wants peace with the Taliban.

President Karzai too wants peace in Afghanistan, but for his own and cronies' security. According to the Afghan constitution, he cannot contest the presidential elections for the third time and, thus, wants to be the lead player in the peace negotiations with the Taliban - as said earlier, to possibly secure concessions for himself and his cohorts in the post-withdrawal Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, the game that is being played by the American and Afghan governments is very dangerous, which may have disastrous consequences for Afghanistan and the region. So, the war-battered country actually needs a grand national reconciliation that, arguably, stands a good chance of coming about if given a try at this point in time when the situation is propitious.

All parties to the conflict appear to be exhausted and it is in this backdrop that the Taliban have indicated that they are not loath to talk to its erstwhile foes of the Northern Alliance. So much so, that Mullah Omar, in his last year’s Eid message, had categorically stated: “The Taliban had no intent at all to monopolise power in a post-withdrawal Afghanistan.”

Further, several Afghan political and ethnic entities also want to be part of the peace dialogue, though to the anger of Karzai. He insists implausibly that his regime represents every hue and stripe of the Afghan polity, which those entities do not accept. But there is no other choice. Indeed, the dialogue for peace, harmony and security has to be broad-based. And the Taliban would not be averse to the peace deal if it is judicious and based on merit, and other parties show due respect for the erstwhile kings and kingmakers in Afghanistan - Pashtuns.

Add to this, the American policymakers must be ruing in their hearts for being so disrespectful to Afghanistan’s ground realities since their occupation has come to cause difficulties in their idea of a respectable exit. They had taken the Taliban lightly 12 years ago. Anyhow, they have reaped the fruits of their folly. But President Karzai should not throw a spanner in the works to obscure the prospects for peace and should rather facilitate the reconciliation process to bring stability in Afghanistan.

The writer is a political analyst and freelance columnist.