At Camp David on Monday, with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai by his side, President Bush warmly endorsed a "jirga," a traditional meeting to resolve disputes. Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, had agreed to attend tomorrow's meeting in Kabul, but today declined, saying the press of business will keep him at home in Islamabad. Musharraf says he hopes lower-ranking officials can resolve issues between the two countries, but his withdrawal is seen as a snub to the United States. Bush and Karzai say al Qaeda in Pakistan is helping the Taliban stage a bloody resurgence, which is also fueled by a record crop of opium poppies. Will Karzai have to go it alone? Would legalizing poppy-production help ease the pressure. Can the "jirga" make a difference, without either Musharraf or the Taliban?
Poppies, Jihadis Stand in the Way of Progress in Afghanistan
Carlotta Gall - New York Times - @carlottagall, Marvin Weinbaum - Senior Scholar, Middle East Institute, Paul Fishstein - Executive Director, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Emmanuel Reinert - Executive Director, Senlis Council, Aziz Qarghah - Director, Afghan Health and Development Services