U.S. and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations

U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks


WASHINGTON — The United States and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran. …

Read more » The New York Times

Criticising the role of the ISI does not mean Pak Army-bashing

Balochistan: the ISI and the media – By: Dr Qaisar Rashid

Gradually, the relationship between the media and the ISI turned symbiotic and some quarters of the media took upon themselves the job of defending publicly every act of the ISI

Perhaps the world would have been a better place to dwell in if military solutions to political issues had been successful. In that case, there would have been no need of long-drawn political dialogues and negotiations since they consume time. If the Pakistan Army had solved the Bangladesh problem, its standing on Balochistan would have been valued. ….

Read more » Daily Times

Pakistan Taliban ‘in peace talks’

Pakistan Taliban’s deputy Mohammad admits peace talks

The Pakistan Taliban is in peace talks with the country’s government, the group’s deputy commander has said.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammad said the focus was on the Bajaur tribal area bordering Afghanistan, and that if successful, talks could be extended to other areas.

He said 145 Taliban prisoners had been freed as a goodwill gesture and the authorities wanted a ceasefire.

It is the first time a top Taliban commander has confirmed negotiations. There has been no government comment.

“Our talks are going in the right direction,” Reuters news agency quotes Mr Mohammad as saying.

The BBC’s Orla Guerin in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, says that in the past such negotiations have backfired allowing the militants time to re-group.

There are also doubts about whether or not any possible peace treaty would be observed by all of the factions in the Pakistan Taliban, which is an increasingly fractured alliance, she says.

In October, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said talks would only be held if the group disarmed. ….

Read more » BBC

If and when security establishemnt is ready, MFN will move forward …

Pak’s turnaround on MFN: PM says status not granted to India

Islamabad, Nov 5: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has made it clear that Pakistan has not granted the Most Favoured Nation status to India, saying the Commerce Ministry has only been tasked to move forward on the issue in bilateral negotiations. …

Courtesy: http://news.oneindia.in/2011/11/05/paistan-on-mfn-pm-says-status-not-granted-to-india.html

Karzai says “Screw talking to the Taliban, I’m talking to their bosses in Pindi.”

– Karzai rules out more Taliban negotiations

Afghan president says killing of peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani has convinced him to change focus

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has ruled out further attempts to negotiate peace with the Taliban.

He said the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan president who was leading efforts to broker peace with the terrorist group, had convinced him to focus on dialogue with Pakistan instead. …

Read more » guardian.co.uk

via » Twitter.

Peace is not in line with Pak generals – Karzai

Ruling out negotiations: ‘Taliban talks futile’

With no headway being made, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his top aides have hinted that they may abandon efforts at peace talks with the Taliban after concluding that negotiating with the militant leadership was futile.

Instead, Karzai has said, negotiations should actually be held with Pakistan – an apparent dig at Islamabad, which is regularly accused of harbouring the Taliban’s senior leadership.

The comments come on the heels of fresh allegations that the assassination of Afghanistan’s top peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul was planned in Pakistan. Rabbani was killed in a bombing by a purported Taliban emissary who had come to visit the former Afghanistan president last month.

The frustration with stalled talks and the escalating violence come months before a key conference is to be held in Bonn, Germany – where it is expected that the Afghan end game will be charted. There had been reports that the Taliban leadership would be involved, in some manner, about the future of the war-torn nation.

“The peace process which we began is dead,” Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Karzai’s national security adviser, said in an interview on Saturday. “It’s a joke,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Karzai and his aides have decided to shift their efforts on putting pressure on Pakistan, which has allegedly provided aid and sanctuary to Afghan insurgents.

“Their messengers are coming and killing … So with whom should we make peace?” Karzai said in the recorded address to the country’s senior religious leaders.

“I cannot find Mullah Muhammad Omar,” Karzai said, referring to the Taliban supreme leader. “Where is he? I cannot find the Taliban council. Where is it? “I don’t have any other answer except to say that the other side for this negotiation is Pakistan.”

Afghan officials have also unilaterally cancelled plans to host a trilateral meeting on Oct 8 with Pakistan and the United States. Instead, a special Afghan delegation will present Pakistani leaders with evidence about the killing of Rabbani, WSJ reported.

Courtesy: → The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2011.

Israeli hardliners have started a massive campaign to undermine Obama’s stand that peace can only come with a truly independent Palestinian state

Obama Sees ’67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal


WASHINGTON — President Obama, seeking to capture a moment of epochal change in the Arab world, began a new effort on Thursday to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, setting out a new starting point for negotiations on the region’s most intractable problem.

A day before the arrival in Washington of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Obama declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — adjusted to some degree to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank — should be the basis of a deal. While the 1967 borders have long been viewed as the foundation for a peace agreement, Mr. Obama’s formula of land swaps to compensate for disputed territory created a new benchmark for a diplomatic solution.

Mr. Obama’s statement represented a subtle, but significant shift, in American policy. And it thrust him back into the region’s most nettlesome dispute at a time when conditions would seem to make reaching a deal especially difficult.

The Israeli government immediately protested, saying that for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders would leave it “indefensible.” Mr. Netanyahu held an angry phone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday before the speech, officials said, in which he demanded that the president’s reference to 1967 borders be cut.

Israeli officials continued to lobby the administration until right before Mr. Obama arrived at the State Department for the address. White House officials said he did not alter anything under Israeli pressure ….

Read more : The New York Times

Obama Advisor Delivered Presidential Threat To Pakistan Over Detained American, Say Officials

– Donilon Told Pakistanis Release Ray Davis By Friday Or Else; Davis Due In Court Friday A.M.


Pakistani officials said President Obama’s national security advisor summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to the White House Monday evening to deliver a threat from the president: Release Raymond Davis, an American being held in Lahore for killing two Pakistanis, or face the consequences.

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told Ambassador Husain Haqqani, according to two Pakistani officials involved in negotiations about Davis, that the U.S. will kick Haqqani out of the U.S., close U.S. consulates in Pakistan, and cancel an upcoming visit by Pakistan’s president to Washington, if Davis, a U.S. embassy employee, is not released from custody by Friday.

The outlines of the threat were confirmed to ABC News by a senior U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. A White House spokesperson, Tommy Vietor, declined comment.

Ambassador Haqqani denied, via Twitter, that any “US official, incl the NSA, has conveyed any personal threats 2 me or spoken of extreme measures.

Read more : ABCnews

Why not be willing to talk to MQM to create a win-win solution?

by Khalid Hashmani

Washington : The question as to why some Sindhis are not willing to engage in negotiations with MQM to create a win-win solution for the benefit of all those who live in Sindh was raised. One opinion expressed in the discussion said that to achieve Sindh Rights, Sindhi-speaking Sindhis should formulate a joint alliance with Urdu-speaking Sindhis and other non-Sindhi speaking Sindhi populations but that MQM would not be a fair-minded and trust-worthy partner as it has so many faces. MQM has a suspicious record in dealing with that oppose MQM hegemony and as well as other communities living in Sindh. It is imperative that Sindhis protect and work together with all those who live in Sindh in peace and oppose those who practice and promote violence. The other point of view was that a majority of Urdu-speaking Sindhis have elected MQM to be their representative. Sindhis cannot and shoud not choose the adversaries with whom they wish to talk and with whom they do not wish to talk. Another argument made was that MQM wins elections mainly through manoeuvring and by threatening common Urdu-speaking men and women was countered that some also say that among Sindhis, elections are mainly won by large landlords and using non-visible coercing techniques. Does this mean that other parties refuse to accept PPP as a representative of Sindhis?

In concluding part of the discussion, the consensus appeared to be that when MQM demonstratively shows that it has shunned violence, Sindhis should have no hesitation in working with MQM in order to solve the problems of Sindh. It was hoped that MQM will soon get rid of all their arms and ammunition, and genuinely adapt a path of peace, tolerance, harmony and non-violence.

About Author: Mr. Khalid Hashmani is a Washington DC-based veteran human rights activist. He is the founding President of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) and Chief coordinator of Sindhi Excellence Team (SET) that participates in advocacy activities on behalf of  Sindhis.