Was it a ghost or did Sirajuddin Haqqani just swoop through Kabul for secret negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai? The New York Times reported earlier this week that Pakistan is trying to strike a deal with the Haqqani network, based in North Waziristan, in order to avert a full scale invasion and grab its piece of the pie.
Washington isn’t biting and has drafted contingency plans for unilateral operations.
But Karzai, allegedly losing faith that America will defeat the Taliban, is working backchannels to subvert US opposition against high level negotiations. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is already lurking behind the curtains and now Haqqani, who until this point has refused negotiations with Karzai, may be as well. They in turn could potentially set the table for Taliban chief Mullah Omar.
Karzai’s office naturally denies any meetings took place - the issue is divisive inside his inner circle and in Washington - so it’s hard to analyze concrete information yet. Regardless, the rumors by themselves are the latest shots fired into the heart of President Barack Obama’s surge.
Perception can be as real as reality in an insurgency.