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Both the Taliban’s political leaders and field commanders are united in their insistence not to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, which they derisively refer to as a Western puppet.

A report by the Royal United Services Institute in September found that the Taliban is prepared to take part in peace talks in return for international political recognition. The report is based on interviews with four senior Taliban figures close to Mullah Omar.

The Haqqani Network — led by the father-son duo Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani — is headquartered in and around Miram Shah, the capital of North Waziristan, and allows al Qaeda and Taliban militants to use its safe havens in Pakistan.