One is a fierce Taliban military leader and a former Guantánamo detainee, the other a timid British political leader whose popularity is dwindling.
Nick Clegg and Qayyum Zakir may not appear to have too much in common.
But a former Taliban deputy minister and a founding member of the militant group has compared the two - describing Zakir as the "Nick Clegg" of the Taliban, a man who would like to rebel, but who will ultimately toe the coalition line.
The comments came in a research paper from the Royal United Services Institute, 'Taliban Perspectives On Reconciliation'.
The most senior Taliban source interviewed for the research, B, was part of a group that pushed its way into Kandahar in the early 1990s, and "provided the most insight into the structure and debates inside the Taliban movement," according to researchers.
B described the Taliban senior responsible for military affairs, Qayyum Zakir, as challenging the group’s coalition from within, but only to a “tolerable extent”.
He said that Zakir was Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s deputy, and would "fall in line"
"We think of Zakir as Nick Clegg," B said, "challenging a coalition from within, but only to a certain tolerable extent."
They dismissed any rumours of a split in the Taliban's ruling faction, the Quetta Shura.
The research revealed that the ousted militant group could be willing to co-operate with the US of Afghan security issues, and take part in peace negotiations.
The Rusi paper included interviews with four senior Afghan figures, three who are close to Mullah Omar.
One is a former minister, and another a former mujahedeen commander and lead negotiator for the Taliban. They also interviewed an Afghan mediator with extensive experience negotiating with the Taliban.
Mullah Omar, they said, would accept such a plan for a deal with the US, and hardline factions would fall into line, under his guidance, even the Vince Cables of the Taliban. The report said a ceasefire endorsed by the leader would have "the greatest potential for success."
"A general ceasefire with Mullah Mohammad Omar’s backing would allow the Taliban to better deal with ‘peace spoilers’ and dissenters."
The report said that Taliban leadership and base "deeply regret their past association with Al-Qaeda. Once a general ceasefire or political agreement are decided, the base would obey a call by Mullah Mohammad Omar – and only him – to completely renounce Al-Qaeda.
"Following renunciation, the Taliban would act to assure that Al-Qaida is no longer able to operate on Afghan soil."
They said a "ceasefire would require strong Islamic justification, obscuring any hint of surrender."
Abdul Hakim Mujahid, deputy leader of Hamid Karzai’s High Peace Council and a former Taliban envoy, told The Daily Telegraph that some Taliban figures had discussed negotiating "a ceasefire package", to try and find a settlement to the conflict.
The Rusi report found the Taliban leaders would also be prepared to negotiate on issues like education for women, but above all would refuse to negotiate with President Hamid Karzai who is "seen as corrupt and weak."
"The Taliban are willing to accept long-term US military presence and bases as long as they do not constrain Afghan independence and Islamic jurisprudence. In time, military presence could be transformed into mainly economic assistance."
"Co-education will not be tolerated, but models for both education and working environments could be adapted to accommodate strict segregation of men and women."