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Karzai criticized for seeking Taliban deal

Afghan President Hamid Karzai takes a question during a news conference in Kabul July 20, 2010. UPI/Musadeq Sadeq/Pool | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/3e9ef5b6ffda5185a2b1d970753fb5b8/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Afghan President Hamid Karzai takes a question during a news conference in Kabul July 20, 2010. UPI/Musadeq Sadeq/Pool | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 23 (UPI) -- Party leaders in Afghanistan say President Hamid Karzai is making a fatal mistake in pursuing a peace deal with Taliban insurgents that could lead to civil war.

Amarullah Saleh, who served as Karzai's top intelligence official for six years, says Karzai has lost conviction in the fight against the Taliban and is recklessly pursuing a political deal with insurgents, The Washington Post reported Friday.

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In speeches to small groups in Kabul and across northern Afghanistan, Saleh repeats his belief that Karzai's push for negotiation with insurgents is a potential disaster that could endanger nine years of progress in areas such as democracy and women's rights.

"If I don't raise my voice we are headed towards a crisis," Saleh told a gathering of college students in Kabul.

A growing number of Afghan minority leaders agree with Saleh.

Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek politicians who once participated fully in Karzai's government say he is marginalizing them as he attempts to strike a political deal with the insurgency.

United States officials have watched with apprehension as Karzai has pursued his own peace initiatives seemingly without Western involvement, the Post reported.

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"Any political reconciliation process has to be genuinely national and genuinely inclusive," NATO's civilian representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Mark Sedwill, said. "Otherwise we're simply storing up the next set of problems that will break out. And in this country when problems break out, they tend to lead to violence."

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