Kabul Distances itself From Amnesty for Mullah Omar

Afghan officials are distancing themselves from claims that an amnesty could be offered to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, the head of Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation commission, said that an amnesty offer from Kabul applies to all Taliban fighters -- without exception.

His remarks contradict earlier statements by President Hamid Karzai, who has offered an amnesty to rank-and-file Taliban but specifically ruled out an amnesty for Mullah Omar, Hekmatyar or other hardcore militants.

Karzai's aides refuse to comment publicly about whether the president has changed his policy. But government officials tell Radio Free Europe privately that Mojaddedi's comments reflect his personal views -- not the position of Karzai's cabinet. U.S. military officials also suggest that an amnesty for Omar is not possible.

Washington is offering a 10 million dollar bounty for Mullah Omar because of his role in sheltering Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the run-up to the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Mojaddedi insists the Afghan government's policy has changed towards Omar and other hardcore militants. He says his commission has independent powers to decide on whom to offer amnesty.

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