ISLAMABAD – A top U.S. envoy said Thursday that not all insurgent factions in Afghanistan will agree to enter the peace process, meaning that force will be necessary to subdue the holdouts.
The envoy, Marc Grossman, was in the region to try to patch up ties with Pakistan, whose cooperation is considered key to bringing the Afghan war to an end.
Grossman's comments underscored the complexity of reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, even as some observers hope that America's killing of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden would nudge some Afghan Taliban to shed their affiliation with the terror network and join eventual peace talks.
"Will everybody be reconciled? No, I'm afraid not," Grossman told Express 24/7, a private Pakistani channel. "There are going to be people who will never be reconciled, and unfortunately, they will have to be defeated militarily, and defeated by the police and defeated by anti-terror forces."
Still, he said, "There are going to be, I hope, many thousands of people who are prepared to reconcile."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration have said they will negotiate with any Taliban member who embraces the Afghan constitution, renounces violence and severs ties with al-Qaida. Informal contacts have been made with high-ranking Taliban, but no formal talks are ongoing.
Whether the overall efforts — both peace talks and military action — succeed could depend on Pakistan, where some Afghan militant groups have bases. But the Pakistan-U.S. relationship has soured badly since the May 2 U.S. raid that killed bin Laden in one a Pakistan city near Islamabad.
Pakistan is furious that it was not informed in advance of the raid. Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers are calling for a review of the billions in American aid to Pakistan amid suspicions that elements of its security forces protected bin Laden.
Pakistani officials vowed again to return part of a Black Hawk helicopter left at the scene of the raid after it crashed, a Pakistani official said. The country's intelligence service also agreed to allow CIA officers further access to bin Laden's three wives, after twice allowing U.S. intelligence access to question them last week, a Pakistani official said.
Grossman met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and several other senior officials on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations in the wake of the bin Laden raid, the president's office said. The visit followed a similar trip earlier this week by U.S. Sen. John Kerry.
Grossman's counterpart on the trip, Michael Morell, deputy director of the CIA, met with Pakistani intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, according to Pakistani officials briefed on the visit.
While neither side offered much detail, a Pakistani official said there had been "forward momentum" in the Morell-Pasha meeting, and a U.S. official called it "productive." Both the U.S. and the Pakistani officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Pakistan's intelligence chief promised to punish anyone he finds was aware or complicit in sheltering Osama bin Laden, the Pakistani official said. There are four separate official Pakistani investigations — within Pakistani intelligence, the army, the air force, and the parliament — into how bin Laden's hideout was missed.
The officials said that while they considered it a positive sign that a high-ranking U.S. intelligence official was making the trip, they expected little concrete to come out of the meeting.
In Washington, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., agreed that Pakistan's security forces had a patchy record of cooperation, citing instances in which Pakistan's Frontier Corps was caught helping smuggle militants and other across the Pakistan border into Afghanistan.
In an interview, Rogers cited U.S. intelligence intercepts and analysis that indicated al-Qaida's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, could be hiding in Pakistan, a claim he first made on "60 Minutes" Sunday.
Rogers said there'd also been instances in which the U.S. let the Pakistanis know they were going after the target — and shortly afterward, "there was hurried movement from the sites" about to be targeted by the U.S.
Kimberley Dozier in Washington contributed to this report.
Information from: AP.