Both Pakistan and Afghanistan agree to talks with Taliban

They're calling it a "min-jirga" - the tribal term for legislature, or assembly, or a meeting of elders - and it could either be the start of peace negotiations are an invitation to disaster.

Both nations have agreed to conduct talks with the Taliban:

Pakistani and Afghan political and tribal leaders meeting in Islamabad Tuesday have agreed to seek talks with Taliban insurgents in a bid to limit violence along their shared border. The announcement came after a two-day meeting described as a mini-jirga in the Pakistani capital. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad.

The two-day "mini-jirga" in Islamabad ended with pledges to create new committees in both countries that will try to establish contact with Taliban groups.

Afghanistan's former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah said those committees will work independently from any other peace talks being pursued by the two governments.

"We agreed that contacts should be established with the opposition," he said. "Apart from whatever else is happening in that regard, joint contacts will be established through jirga-gai by using other influential figures through the opposition groups in both countries."

Representatives of the Islamabad jirga said the term "opposition groups" refers to all those involved in the armed conflict in both countries.

By acknowledging that they are indeed the "opposition," both nations open the door to sharing power with the Taliban - something akin to inviting the fox to live in the chicken house. The last coalition government the Taliban belonged to didn't last very long. They took over Afghanistan after shunting other factions to the side.

They have more support in Afghanistan but as long as NATO is there, Karzai's government should be relatively safe. As for Pakistan, the tribes allied to the Taliban may seek more autonomy from the government in which case, al-Qaeda will probably have a safe haven in the Northwest Frontier Provinces (NWFP).

On the other hand, it may settle the border region down some and allow for some normalcy for the Afghan people. If Karzai could deliver that, he would almost certainly rise in stature in the people's eyes.

This is a dangerous move with a lot of downside potential.