Talking to the Enemy: Track II and its Significance for Afghanistan

Talking to the Enemy: Track II and its Significance for Afghanistan

IPS associate argues that back channel diplomacy and talks with the insurgents, mainly Taliban, can generate the necessary preliminary groundwork for a future peace process in the country than use of force alone.


[The idea of opening negotiations with the Taliban is highly controversial. Both the Taliban and the internationally-backed Afghan government have rejected holding formal talks aimed at a political resolution. Afghanistan is therefore trapped in a military stalemate, with no clear end in sight. Initiating a pre-negotiation phase using “Track Two” diplomacy can generate the necessary preliminary groundwork for a future peace process, without committing either party to a formal agreement. Track II negotiations are non-binding meetings that are held in secret; participants maintain a private and unofficial status at the sessions to ensure that the process remains informal. These meetings are an initial testing of the negotiating waters, and can help build trust in a potential peace process. Most importantly, Track II would allow both the Taliban and the Afghan government to engage in intensive pre-negotiation work behind the scenes, without being held liable for the content of those meetings.]


Negotiations with the Taliban


In traditional international relations, war is an extension of diplomacy and is used as a last resort when conflicts cannot be settled through a negotiated agreement between rival states. In the current conflict in Afghanistan, as in most other contemporary armed conflicts, the multitude of non-state actors involved makes it challenging to open peace nego-tiations. Currently, the insurgency in Afghanistan is composed of various elements, some of which are more organized than others. The main component, consisting of supporters and allies of the Taliban movement that established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, opposes the internationally mandated presence of troops under North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command and much of the political process overseen by the United Nations (UN) according to the guidelines in the Bonn Agreement and its successor, the Afghanistan Compact. The insurgents oppose this political process and consider it illegitimate, while those supporting this process (virtually all official organizations and major states of the international community) deny the insurgents official recognition or the right to enter into the peace process.


The resistance in Afghanistan is now characterized by low-intensity guerrilla warfare and suicide attacks against foreign forces, the Afghan government and military, and, more recently, the Pakistani government and military. However, this is only one of many dimensions of violence found in the countryside. Parties to the complex milieu of conflict include the Afghan government under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, Afghan security forces, the United States, NATO member states, militias of the former Northern Alliance, state-sponsored warlords, local strongmen of various contradictory and shifting allegiances, Taliban fighters, tribal peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan, grassroots insurgents, narco-criminals, foreign al-Qaeda supporters, neighboring countries, and more.


The battle lines between these groups are ambiguous and deeply convoluted. Because of the immense complexity of violence in Afghanistan, it is essential to develop a strategic approach to peace-building. This paper proposes that the crucial fault line of conflict lies between the internationally-backed Afghanistan Compact under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai and the loosely organized Taliban movement. All other actors’ relationships are influenced by this key relationship. Though no longer operating as a singular and coherent political movement or military structure, the Taliban remain a powerful albeit decentralized social force that is crudely synonymous with all anti-occupation military activity in Afghanistan, as well as anti-government activity in neighboring Pakistan. Certainly, many other actors involved in the conflict can affect the success of a negotiated settlement, but there can be no peace process at all without the participation of these two key actors.


However, Pakistan’s unique position between these two key actors makes it an important player, as Pakistani national interest is inextricably linked to what happens on the other side of its tribal border region. Moreover, within Pakistan’s well-established foreign affairs bureaucracy and diplomatic corps, there are a number of influential individuals who have hands-on experience in dealing with both American policy-makers and local Afghan guerrillas. Pakistan had a long-term working relationship with the Taliban during the 1990s, a time when the rest of the international community had lost interest in Afghanistan. Because of these historic ties, some members of the Pakistani military or bureaucracy might maintain a more tolerant view of the Taliban movement. On the other end of the spectrum, as an ally in the US-led “War on Terror” and the frontline for anti-Taliban activity in its Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan is also a key military ally for the Americans. This complex political position makes Pakistan an important player that should be included in initial talks with the Taliban and the Afghan government.


None of the parties to the conflict have a clear understanding of the identity and objectives of their opponent. This lack of conciliation has resulted in a mutually hurting stalemate on the battlefield, wherein the costs of continued violence outweigh its benefits for all, although the parties to the conflict have failed to recognize this no-win situation. The Taliban believe they can outwait US and NATO forces, while foreign troops think they can eventually defeat the Taliban through sheer military force. However, the Taliban, the Government of Afghanistan, and the international community all need to recognize that there is a cost to continuing armed conflict and that, depending on the objectives and intentions of the other side, there may be a possibility of a negotiated solution.


The possibility of such a negotiated solution is contingent on whether or not the bottom-line objectives of the Taliban and the Afghan government are fundamentally incompatible. The challenge then becomes sorting out and communicating what these basic interests and objectives are for both of the key parties to the conflict, in order to determine the grounds for any future negotiation. This type of negotiation is challenging under the best of conditions; however, in the Afghan case, where the Taliban are not recognized as a legitimate political actor by the Afghan government and the international community, even initiating these talks would be enormously controversial in the public sphere.


Getting to the negotiating table in the Afghanistan crisis is therefore extraordinarily difficult from logistical and political perspectives. Given these challenges, the groundwork for discovering these integrative solutions must precede the starting point of any official peace process. A framework of cooperation and trust can be generated during the pre-negotiation period, so that government officials and local leaders can explore a wider array of policy options upon entering into official talks. Finding solutions to the crisis in Afghanistan requires an active Track II diplomatic effort, using unofficial channels to make progress in generating a peace process. This unofficial work can then supply the official parties with a framework for problem-solving work, as well as generate possible integrative solutions to the conflict. This paper aims (a) to explain the utility of Track II work in initiating a peace process, and (b) to provide a practical policy guide for developing Track II diplomatic channels for peace-building in Afghanistan, specifically through the use of unofficial interactive problem-solving workshops.




The Pre-Negotiation Phase


According to William Zartman’s classic definition, “pre-negotiation begins when one or more parties [engaged in conflict] consider negotiation as a policy option and communicates this intention to other parties. It ends when the parties agree to formal talks or when one party abandons the consideration of negotiations as an option.” While official positions on negotiations with the Taliban might appear unchanged at elite levels, behind the scenes, there is an increasing understanding among a broad spectrum of scholars and policymakers that progress in peace-building in Afghanistan will require a political, not a military, solution. Effective pre-negotiation work in Afghanistan should lay the foundations for official, formal negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghanistan Compact; therefore, the peace process in Afghanistan must necessarily be a multi-track process.


Formal, Traditional and Informal Approaches


Track I Diplomacy comprises official inter-governmental relations between two sovereign states through the official representatives of their executives. Negotiations at this level only involve official actors who are empowered only to speak on behalf of the governments that they represent, and who are limited in what they are allowed to discuss on the instruction of their respective governments. The recent Pak-Afghan jirga process has transcended this traditional model of diplomacy, bringing in actors from the official government level as well as mid-level stakeholders, such as key tribal elders, from both the Pakistani and Afghan side. While Track I normally only includes government actors, the Pak-Afghan jirga used the traditional Pashtun mechanism of dispute resolution to bring on board a wide array of actors into the peace-building process.


However, it is most interesting to note that because the Taliban were labelled as illegitimate actors, they were entirely excluded from talks. As such, key actors boycotted the Jirga in order to protest the futility of engaging in peace talks that excluded the main party to the conflict. Thus, while the jirga process is a time-tested and effective method of dispute resolution, in its current form, it has had very limited utility. Beyond the rhetoric and symbolic gestures of heads of state, the jirga process has so far been an ineffective channel for resolving the conflict with the Taliban. The vital issue that underlies this failure is the inability of some official actors to include the Taliban in formal peace talks. For some heads of state, it would be political suicide to admit they are considering a negotiated settlement with the Taliban at this stage. Therefore, official diplomacy, even the much more flexible jirga process, is highly impotent in genuine and effective negotiations. The path towards opening negotiations with the Taliban must therefore be much more subtle and strategic than the formal and traditional approaches employed thus far, and cannot at this stage implicate elite leaders of states. This is where Track II negotiations in Afghanistan can be most effective.


Unlike the first track, Track II diplomacy is an unofficial process involving private actors operating outside any government process. Track II seeks to “initiate talks on sensitive issues that cannot be dealt with in a formal setting or between parties that have not yet recognized each other and hence cannot engage one another in official negotiations”. Importantly, these meetings are not secret diplomatic meetings between governments, nor are they academic conferences for research purposes. The immense benefit of Track II negotiations is that they are held in a safe space, where all participants can feel comfortable speaking candidly about conflict dynamics without fear of being held liable for what they say. Discussion in these forums is uninhibited because nothing said at these sessions is binding on governments or parties to the conflict, nor can participants be held officially responsible for what they contribute to these meetings. In fact, not only are governments not committed to the decisions of these processes, but they can also deny any involvement in (and even knowledge of) these unofficial talks. Specifically, “Track II talks are discussions held by non-officials of conflicting parties.” Therefore, through a Track II process, the parties to the conflict in Afghanistan can engage in initial introductory talks with each other, including the Taliban, without fear that they will be politically implicated for having done so.


A brief theoretical discussion of Track II negotiations is necessary before discussing exactly how this forum can be useful in generating a peace process with the Taliban.


Theoretical Overview of Track II Diplomacy


Activities under Track II: The interactive problem-solving workshop is the most practical and common exercise in Track II diplomacy. These workshops involve informal representatives of the conflicting parties, take place in informal settings, and are specifically geared towards the development of integrative solutions to conflict. A problem-solving workshop brings together participants from every dimension of the conflict to a neutral environment, to engage in respectful but uninhibited discussions in a series of private, off-the-record meeting sessions.


An interactive problem-solving workshop typically runs for 2-3 full days and takes place in an informal environment so that participants can engage with each other in a casual manner both during and between working sessions. These meetings then need to be repeated with the same participants over the course of several months, in order for lasting and genuine relationships between the participants to be developed. Track II is a process of slow but steady trust- and relationship-building among participants.


Participants in Track II: Participants in a Track II talk include academics, retired government officials, retired military and intelligence officers, local and religious leaders acting in a private and unofficial capacity, current government and army officials acting in a private and unofficial capacity, and selected civil society actors. Participants should represent the interests and perspectives of the parties to the conflict. In a problem-solving workshop, the “ideal participants are highly influential within their own communities, but are not in policy-making positions, although they usually participate with the tacit consent of officials to maximize the influence on the policy process”. These participants can engage in candid talks that are not yet permissible on the official agenda because they have no formal status in any pre-negotiation meetings that are held. Participants in a Track II meeting should be able to influence policy, without being held personally responsible for making policy decisions.


The selection of participants is crucial to the success or failure of a second track initiative. The objective of second track work is to bring together representatives of all the opposing viewpoints, from both moderate and hard-line perspectives. Notably, even though moderates might be more likely to achieve consensus, including ideological hard-liners in the unofficial talks provides a more realistic assessment of possible compromise at the official level. Academic expertise is also an essential component of these discussions, as scholars can bring encyclopedic knowledge, rigorous analysis, and refreshing creativity to a fiery and combative discussion table.


Since all participation in problem-solving workshops is informal, there must be a channel between the members of a Track II forum and the actual decision-makers in the conflict, either in the form of government consultation, political influence, or scholarly expertise. Without the ability to transfer the benefits of second track work to the official level, these efforts would go to waste. Therefore, the individuals selected for participation should (a) be acting in a private and unofficial capacity, (b) have expertise and/or experience in the conflict, and (c) have the ability to transfer the effects of the second track work up to official channels.


Finally, it is important, in the early pre-negotiation phase, to limit the number and range of participants involved in the meetings. Scholars of Track II have noted that too many positions can make consensus in Track II meetings difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, participants in the early stages should be strategically selected to represent the core fault line of conflict, and additional actors should only be included once the process has been set in motion and achieved some initial success.


Environment of Track II: In order for Track II to be successful, the host environment must guarantee the personal safety and security of all participants, or the peace process will fail. If any member incurs legal challenges or physical threats as a result of their participation, the Track II process is finished. Therefore, the parties to the conflict must agree upon the country, city, and host institution where second track meetings will be held. Once this safe space is constructed, the participants can agree on the rules of interaction to ensure their personal safety and security.


In order to bring these actors together and coordinate their meetings, Track II processes need a host organization or institution to sponsor the process. Track II talks should be held in a neutral, unofficial forum, such as a university campus, non-partisan research institute, or a nongovern-mental organization. Neutrality, hospitality, professionalism, and confi-dentiality are the essential characteristics of an institution hosting a problem-solving workshop.


The host institution not only must create an atmosphere of trust and confidence, but may also have important responsibilities concerning the modalities of the process, such as selecting participants, setting the workshop agenda, and mediating the discussion itself. Launching an effective grassroots Track II initiative requires a host that is capable of inviting key and influential actors, funding the travel and accommodation of guests during the meetings, providing a forum for repeated confidential discussions, and acting as a moderator and mediator between rivals during the course of the meetings. Organizational and administrative duties are managed by the host institution, which not only builds the Track II team but also provides them with a home base from which to operate. A committed international non-governmental organization, university, or academic centre can serve this purpose. As a neutral third party, the host can manage the logistical and organizational burden of setting up the meeting times and agenda, as well as encourage teamwork between participants during the workshop itself.


Secrecy in Track II: As indicated throughout this paper, the unofficial, off-the-record, and secret character of Track II work is critical for success. The secrecy of Track II meetings is an absolute must, as the premature public exposure of private discussions might undermine the success of the entire effort. Worse, in some situations the security of participants may be jeopardized if their involvement in pre-negotiations becomes publicly known. Secrecy allows deniability, and deniability is necessary to protect individual participants’ security.


Moreover, deniability allows participants the opportunity to speak more candidly; nothing said in an off-the-record, closed-door session can be held against them once they leave the room. Deniability thus allows participants to feel secure in exploring solutions that may not resonate with the rest of their domestic audience or with the official parties to the conflict. As long as talks are private and off-the-record, the parties can officially deny ever even having participated in diplomatic engagement with their rivals; individuals can disassociate themselves personally and professionally from the problem-solving workshop. Secrecy allows the most sensitive topics and the most controversial solutions to be explored, without fear of repercussions from domestic or international audiences.


Initiating Track II in the Afghanistan Crisis


Starting a Track II process on the current conflict in Afghanistan could help to generate solutions to what appears to be an intractable stalemate. The government-run Afghanistan peace and reconciliation commission has offered amnesty to former Taliban fighters, with an opportunity to participate in the political reconciliation process, on the condition that they renounce violence and accept the legitimacy of the Afghan government. This offer does not extend to those Taliban who maintain a relationship with al-Qaeda or who hail from the Pakistani side of the tribal areas. The United States and international community have supported this reconciliation, as long as pro-al-Qaeda Taliban are excluded from the program. On the other hand, Taliban leader Mullah Omar has refused to negotiate with President Karzai as long as foreign forces occupy the country, and the Taliban leader has rejected Karzai’s offer of amnesty under the government’s peace and reconciliation program. The absence of negotiations means that the only current conceivable end to the violence is for one side to decisively win the war and exterminate or expel their enemy. Given the resolve of both parties, such an outcome is virtually impossible.


There is currently no forum for the Taliban and the internationally-supported Afghan government to generate creative peace-building solutions to the conflict. Generating such a forum will require a resourceful sponsoring organization that can bring participants together in a neutral and safe host environment. Importantly, in the early stages of pre-negotiation, a number of simultaneous small-scale Track II processes might emerge independently of each other. These processes will need to be coordinated and streamlined in order to avoid redundancy or mutual conflict. The initial objectives of such a forum should be to develop a common definition of the problem, reduce distrust among meeting participants, and build confidence in the Track II process. As the process accomplishes these initial goals, objectives can be expanded to include clarification of the objectives of each of the parties to the conflict, reframing of the identities of and relationship between participants, and generation of integrative solutions to controversial and complex aspects of the conflict.


Choosing Actors for Track II in Afghanistan


As previously discussed, the two key players in the conflict are the loosely organized Taliban guerrilla movement and the internationally-supported Government of Afghanistan under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai. In the stages of the second track process, it will not be necessary to bring a formal representative of either the Taliban or the Karzai government to a closed-door problem-solving workshop. In these talks, the individuals should represent Taliban or Afghan government positions and need not have any official association with either Taliban or Afghan authorities. What is required is that workshop participants be able to accurately and thoroughly describe the interests, ideologies, and objectives of the Taliban or the Karzai government to the Track II team. This means that participants need to have an intimate and practical knowledge of the policy priorities of either the Taliban leadership or the Afghan government, and an ability to assess the levels of compromise that are reasonably possible by these groups.


On the Taliban side, ideal participants will have an expert understanding of the Taliban’s decision-making process, working knowledge of the current priorities and interests of the leadership and its followers, and experience in dealing directly with Taliban officials. Textbook knowledge of the Taliban movement is not sufficient here. These participants could include retired officers of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and army, former Taliban representatives, former mujahidin, tribal leaders that have experience with the Taliban, unofficial delegates selected by current Taliban commanders from either Afghanistan or the FATA, journalists with good working relationships with the Taliban leadership, academic experts with influence in the decision-making levels of Pakistani and Afghan governments, Pakistani policy-makers acting in an unofficial capacity, and current Taliban spokespersons acting in an unofficial civilian capacity.


From the Afghan government side, an initial team of participants should include unofficial representatives or delegates of the Karzai administration who have a strong working knowledge of the policy positions and processes of the government. Because the Karzai government is heavily supported by the international community, the foreign policy concerns of the United States and other NATO countries is a critical concern to these talks. Influential international academics with a working knowledge of Afghanistan, NATO, and/or American foreign policy could inform discussions on the international community’s position towards the Karzai government and the Taliban. Moreover, former American, UN, or NATO diplomats who are either retired or on sabbatical could also help to bring a realistic assessment of the possibilities of compromise to the table.


Importantly, Agha et al. stress that “Track II participants in ‘hard’ exercises should be of a certain stature, but should not be so senior as to give the impression that they are conducting covert or camouflaged Track I talks.” In fact, keeping a distance from the official leadership while Track II is under way might actually help to keep the process credible among the participants. Therefore, the choicest actors for these interactive problem-solving workshops would be individuals whose status is unofficial, but who are influential in the political leadership of the Taliban, the Afghan government, the Pakistani government, the United States, and other NATO country governments. In addition to being unofficial but influential, they should also be creative, plainspoken and solution-oriented individuals who are willing to commit to the process.


Hosting Track II in Afghanistan


Deciding on an appropriate location and forum for all participants involved in the Afghanistan Track II process would itself be part of the work of pre-negotiation. After selecting participants, the host should consult all of them regarding where they would feel safe to meet and willing to travel to. Would the unofficial delegates of the Karzai administration agree to a meeting in Islamabad? Would the Taliban delegation feel safe in Pakistan’s capital? Are former ISI officials willing to go to Kabul to participate in Track II? The participants must agree upon a mutually acceptable location and the highest priority should be given to the security of the most vulnerable participants.


There are advantages and disadvantages to any meeting environment but, as a general rule, Track II is most effective where participants are physically removed from the conflict zone and are hosted by a third party. The meeting environment should be a safe and positive space for all participants. In 1999, the Taliban and the Northern Alliance sought to end their feud through peace talks held in Makkah. In recent months, Saudi Arabia also hosted peace talks in Makkah between rival Palestinian factions. Although talks on both occasions failed to achieve a ceasefire, this is not a reflection of the effectiveness of the host environment. The Holy City has a unique spiritual appeal for Muslims that may help to draw hesitant or reluctant parties to the current Afghanistan conflict into an initial meeting. On the other hand, participants might decide that a thoroughly dispassionate environment may be preferable, such as Beijing or Dubai. The crucial point is that participants should themselves select a host environment that meets their needs for security and their objective of opening a channel of communication.


Agenda of Track II in Afghanistan


The agenda of the Track II problem-solving workshopmust be carefully designed to help participants ascertain the bargaining space between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Controversial topics should be avoided at the outset of these talks. Sensitive issues should be forestalled until a level of comfort and a team spirit is established in the room, otherwise heated confrontation will undermine the entire meeting. The order of priorities in Track II meetings on Afghanistan should be as follows:

  1. Agreeing upon a common definition of the problem;
  2. Building trust among participants;
  3. Conceptualizing a common vision for Afghanistan’s future;
  4. Clarifying the interests and objectives of rival parties to the conflict; and
  5. Generating integrative solutions to controversial and complex disputes.

Rather than trying to generate solutions to the more gruelling and contentious issues, the objective of the initial rounds of discussions should be to reach a common definition of the problem. The latter is a far more realistic goal for early Track II talks, and success against this modest objective would allow participants to develop trust in the process and in each other. Initial discussions should aim to define the conflict in such a way that all parties can agree on the language and framing, and then put this common definition to paper in a signed memorandum of under-standing.


Having achieved this common definition of a problem, the parties can then consider the common ground between them. Both parties are already fully aware of their differences and rivalry, so it is imperative for the host to encourage participants to focus on commonly held beliefs, goals, and objectives. This common framework does not need to be a detailed roadmap, but should demonstrate that both parties can share a vision of the future. For example, no party to this conflict wants to see an impoverished, disaffected, disease-ridden Afghanistan five years from now. As fellow Muslims, both the Taliban and the Afghan government would prefer a legitimate economy to the illicit narcotics trade. And neither can tolerate violence committed against Afghan women at the hands of unruly militias.


Only with a common definition of the problem, a shared vision of the future, and a clearer picture of the identities and interests of parties to the conflict can the Track II team embark on the creative aspect of the problem-solving workshop. This creative problem-solving work should not begin until the distrust between adversarial participants has been reduced. As Afghan government and Taliban participants develop confidence in one another through initial meetings, they can begin discussing more controversial topics and unconventional solutions. Secrecy of the process, kept by all parties and the host institution, remains essential during these brainstorming sessions. Otherwise, participants are likely to abuse the forum through posturing, dishonesty, exaggeration, and brinksmanship, thereby frustrating and hampering the creative process. In order for the interactive problem-solving session to be useful, participants need to genuinely understand the degree of inflexibility that restricts compromise, but then be able to set aside that inflexibility in order to explore what the possibilities of cooperation between the Afghan government and the Taliban truly are. All participants should strive to wear their political and ideological positions loosely, even if only for the duration of the brainstorming session, so that every avenue of reconciliation is given a fair investigation.


Cultural Considerations


In a concluding thought, it is of paramount importance to consider the impact of cultural differences on the success of pre-negotiation work. Misperception is a common phenomenon in international diplomacy, and actors often misread the signals of rivals, especially where those signals are delivered across cultural divides. This is especially true of interactions between “high-context” and “low-context” cultures.


According to Raymond Cohen, a high-context culture uses both explicit and implicit forms of communication; in these societies, messages can be either direct or elusive. Respect, courtesy, and appropriate manners are heavily valued in these cultures, meaning that frank and candid discussions with guests and foreigners becomes less likely out of necessary politeness. On the other hand, a low-context culture is one where there is very little implicit meaning in talk; these societies are characterized by straightforward talk and consider indirect language to be suspicious. While a high-context culture might consider straight talk to be rude, a low-context society would equally misread polite language as being disingenuous. Furthermore, persons with a high-context culture may read more into a message from a low-context culture than was ever intended. That is, the high-context recipient may assume a hidden message where none was intended. Equally, a subtle message sent by a high-context party may be completely missed by a recipient from a low-context culture. Persons in low-context cultures focus on explicit messages, and are not sensitive to subtle messages, hints, and gestures, which are sometimes imperceptible to cultural outsiders.


These differences in perception and interpretation of messages are a key explanation for why miscommunication occurs across cultures. Therefore, societies characterized by high-context cultures (such as Afghanistan and Pakistan) are far more likely to experience misperception in signals and messages in their dealings with countries that have low-context cultures (such as the United States), while effective communication is more likely between relatively similar high-context cultures (Afghans and Pakistanis). The pre-negotiation phase provides an opportunity for Track II participants to clarify messages and intentions across otherwise tricky cultural divides.


Finally, in the midst of violent conflict, parties to a dispute are acutely aware of their differences with their rival. The easiest form of self-definition of a group is highlighting the distinguishing features of the self versus another group; that is, to look for the differences between groups as the very criteria for self-definition. Groups are often defined by an insider-outsider dynamic, and such dynamics can work against efforts to develop a common framework for negotiation. Track II seeks to develop a new group dynamic among team members at the unofficial realm. Through this process, there is hope for the internationally-sponsored Afghan government, the Taliban movement, and the Pakistani government to discover that their interests and objectives for Afghanistan and the region are, in fact, reconcilable.




Agha, H., Feldman, S., Ahmad, K., and Schiff, Z. 2003. Track II Diplomacy: Lessons from the Middle East. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.


Aizenman, N.C. “Four Senior Taliban Leaders Accept Amnesty” in The Washington Post, February 16, 2005. Pg. A12. Found at http://www.


Cohen, Raymond. 2006. “Negotiating Across Cultures.” In Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, eds. Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.


Fisher, Ronald. 1997. Interactive Conflict Resolution. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.


Fisher, Ronald. 1989. “Prenegotiation Problem-solving Discussions: Enhancing the Potential for Successful Negotiation.” In Getting to the Table: The Processes of International Prenegotiation, ed. Janice Stein.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.


Mufti, Shahan. 2007. “Karzai, Musharraf try to reconcile at ‘peace jirga.’” The Christian Science Monitor Online, August 13. http://www.csmonitor .com/2007/0813/p10s01-wosc.html.


Rasmussen, J. Lewis. 1997. “Peace-making in the Twenty-First Century.” In Peacemaking in International Conflict: Methods and Techniques, eds. I. W. Zartman and J. L. Rasmussen. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.


Saunders, Harold H. 2006. “Prenegotiation and Circum-negotiation: Arenas of the Multilevel Peace Process.” In Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, eds. Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.


Zartman, I. William. 1989. “Prenegotiation: Phases and Functions.” In Getting to the Table: The Processes of International Prenegotiation, ed. Janice Stein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.




Saunders 2006, 485. See also Zartman 1989. “Prenegotiation: Phases and Func-tions.” In Getting to the Table: The Processes of International Prenegotiation, ed. Janice Stein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Mufti 2007.

Agha et al. 2003, 3.

Ibid., 2. At the official level, pre-negotiation can include back-channel diplomacy, where official parties interact directly but in secret. Backchannel negotiations have been used to broker settlements where open negotiations would be impossible, such as in ceasefire agreements between military forces and insurgent groups. Backchannel negotiations should not be mistaken for Track II negotiations. The former (backchannels) is an official process done in secret. The latter (Track II) is an unofficial process held in secret, but with no commitment of government to the process.

Ibid., 1.

Fisher 1989, 209.

Agha et al. 2003, 176-80,189.

Fisher 1997, 59.

Rasmussen 1997, 44.

Fisher 1989, 217.

Agha et al. 2003, 178-80.

Ibid., 180-81.

Ibid., 174-74.

Ibid., 2.

Ibid., 185.

See Aizenman “Four Senior Taliban Leaders Accept Amnesty” in The Washington Post, February 16, 2005. Pg. A12 found at

On May 10 2005 President Karzai offered amnesty to all Taliban that accept the government, including Mullah Omar. Mullah Omar rejected this offer and President Karzai therefore rescinded his offer to Mullah Omar on May 11, 2005. See Radio Free Afghanistan news report at /2005/05/27E891E7-5D76-4B22-8F9D-7A4507C8C6C7.ASP

Ibid., 180.

Ibid., 181.

Ibid., 170-171.

Cohen 2006, 427.

Ibid., 427.


Share this post