In Peace Overture, Afghan President Offers Passports to Taliban

The Taliban have yet to respond to Mr. Ghani’s proposal. But in a statement on Monday, they said they had asked American officials to talk directly to their political office, and not through the Afghan government. The statement also said that “military strategies which have repeatedly been tested in Afghanistan over the past 17 years will only intensify and prolong the war.”

Under President Trump, the American strategy for ending the war has entailed expanding a campaign of airstrikes and putting pressure on Pakistan to force the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.

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In Peace Overture, Afghan President Offers Passports to Taliban
In Peace Overture, Afghan President Offers Passports to Taliban

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American commanders have claimed progress, but only in measures that are classified. A Pentagon study made public this month showed that the Afghan government controlled 18 percent of the country’s districts at the end of last year and had influence over an additional 38 percent.

While the insurgents dominate only a sliver of the country, they still hold substantial sway. The Taliban collect taxes from businesses and run a shadow judicial system for settling disputes, preferred by some Afghans over the corrupt government courts.

In one measure of the Taliban’s reach, cellphone companies comply with the group’s request to halt service around 5 p.m. in parts of the country, including in Kunduz, a major city, lest the insurgents blow up transmission towers. The blackouts demonstrate influence, and the Taliban say they also serve a practical purpose of preventing government informants from calling in tips about their nighttime movements.

Around dusk on Tuesday, insurgents attacked a checkpoint in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, killing five police officers, and later stopped a bus and captured 19 passengers as hostages, according to a police spokesman.

The peace talks known as the Kabul Process began last year and are intended to show unity in the international community for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The United Nations also backs this approach.

Jawad Sukhanyar, Fatima Faizi and Fahem Abed contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on March 1, 2018, on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Afghanistan Extends Offer to Taliban. Order Reprints|Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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