USA needs Pakistan to help talk with the Afghan Taliban

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The deputy assistant Secretary of State Department for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, on her visit to Kabul this Saturday said that the biggest hurdle toward the peace process and negotiations are Taliban themselves. She further stated that for the continuation of what was seen during the Eid ceasefire, when both Taliban and Afghan security forces were seen celebrating Eid together, it is necessary that Islamabad must put more pressure on Afghan Taliban.

The reluctance for the dialogue is on part of Taliban leadership which is not residing in Afghanistan, she said. Ghani administration has called out repeatedly for dialogue with Afghan Taliban without any precondition but the offer has been turned down by the other side every time. The militant group has never shown any acceptance to the authority of Afghan government. Taliban want a direct bipartite dialogue with the United States of America.

Since the USA has invested billions of dollars and human resource over the course of the 17-year war, it is not possible to bypass the authority of government they have always backed. The United States desperately wants a political solution to Afghan turmoil but it has to be on the conditions which are acceptable for the masses back home.

Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain was in China when he announced that Pakistan is strongly supporting the ceasefire. Pakistan knows its role well in peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and we will fulfill our role very well,” he said.

Ms. Wells believes that it will not be possible for Taliban to resist the dialogue process for too long and eventually they will decide to come on board. But to act as the catalyst in the process, the effective involvement of Pakistan is necessary. “Pakistan has an important role to play… but we have not yet seen that sustained and decisive action on the part of Islamabad,” she said. “It’s going to be very hard for us to achieve our objectives… if Pakistan isn’t working with us”, she said.

The statement itself stands in contrast with what U.S president Donald Trump announced in his new South Asia policy last September. In the new policy, President Trump announced India to be United States’ new ally to help it solve the mess inside Afghanistan, sidelining the traditional ally Pakistan. Experts shared the pessimism about the success of policy since the involvement of India was not going to help solve the real problem one bit.

But it was going to increase the chaos inside Pakistan, a country which has a direct stake in the Afghan issue. Within months after the change in South Asia strategy, America had to resort to Pakistan for its help in the matter, which was expected. On the other hand, President Ashraf Ghani announced that both Pakistan and Afghanistan have reached a “unique” deal to curb the menace of terrorism from the region. He stated that for the first time a written agreement has been signed by both the countries in this regard.

“The issue of Taliban should be solved in our relations with Pakistan. Some things have been done in this respect and some things are still needed to be done. It has been agreed on paper for the first time. The Afghanistan-Pakistan negotiations framework is now on paper. Now, serious actions are required,” he said.

Since the USA has invested billions of dollars and human resource over the course of the 17-year war, it is not possible to bypass the authority of government they have always backed.

The details of the agreement were not made public. It is an encouraging sign that both sides are inclining toward cooperation in the matters of mutual interest rather the belligerence which witnessed in the form of violent clashes at the border between Afghan and Pakistan security forces recently.

Pakistan has always been in favor of a peaceful Afghanistan which is essential for its own internal security. There have been repeated instances in the past where dialogue between Taliban and American representative were facilitated by Pakistan but every time they were sabotaged by U.S offensive. Last time when there was real hope of a breakthrough, Taliban Commander Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a U.S drone strike when he was coming from Iran.

The prerequisite for a long-term solution is the trust between Pakistan and Afghan decision makers. Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul Zahid Nasrullah also stressed the need for the strengthening of Kabul-Islamabad ties. He talked about Islamabad’s role in ensuring peace in Afghanistan. “We welcome the ceasefire and strongly supported it.

Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain was in China when he announced that Pakistan is strongly supporting the ceasefire. Pakistan knows its role well in peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and we will fulfill our role very well,” he said.

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