Afghan President Hamid Karzai established a High Council for Peace on September 28, 2010 with the objective of paving the way towards peace with the Taliban through negotiation and reconcilation (“Karzai sets up body for peace talks,” Aljazeera News, 28 September 2010).
Karzai hand-picked the nearly 70 council members, who include representatives of women and ethnic groups, civil and religious leaders, tribal elders, and former Taliban. Presidential spokesperson Waheed Omar stated that Taliban leaders have recently reached out both directly and indirectly through backchannels to the highest levels of government and that the Council would guide those contacts (“Afghanistan appoints peace council,” CBC News, 28 September 2010).
Publicly, however, the Taliban have rejected Karzai’s bid for peace talks, calling the Council failed and impractical. They are also denying that Taliban officials have been in contact with the government (Ivan Watson, “Taliban deny high-level contact with Afghan government,” CNN, 29 September 2010).