Home News Analysis Pakistan trying to break the stalemate in the Afghan dialogue process

Pakistan trying to break the stalemate in the Afghan dialogue process

Taliban
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News Analysis |

According to reports, Pakistan is moving the resources at its disposal to arrange for a meet up of Afghan Taliban and U.S Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad. The latter was to travel to Pakistan, but reportedly his visit was postponed to allow the Taliban leadership some time to mull over the possibility of a head-on meeting in order to get things going.

Taliban had refused to attend the second round of negotiations, which were organized in Riyadh Saudi Arabia last week, followed by a threat to pull out of ongoing negotiations if the U.S want to add anything other than troop withdrawal into the agenda.

Former Secretary of State under President Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton has gone on the record to acknowledge this fact that the United States of America simply abandoned Pakistan post-Soviet defeat in Afghanistan.

According to Taliban sources, both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates want them to accept the legitimacy of the current Kabul regime, allowing them a seat at the table. But the insurgent group has maintained over the years that lawmakers in Kabul are mere puppets and U.S is the real strings pullers, therefore, a dialogue with the U.S government is more worthwhile.

Last week, Zalmay Khalilzad reached Kabul after visiting regional countries including India, after which a statement was issued by the U.S embassy in Kabul, stressing the need of an “Afghan oriented solution”. It apparently enraged the Taliban leadership who took it as another attempt to bring the Kabul government back into the equation and threatened to pull out.

A Change in the Strategy?

Washington has long accused Pakistan of harboring the terrorists and not putting 100% into the efforts which would culminate in the form of sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Relations which the state of Pakistan have had with the Taliban, courtesy of Soviet Invasion and ongoing insurgency inside Afghanistan, are understandable to be convoluted instead of a zero-sum equation as Washington tries to project.

Read more: Bumpy road to Afghan peace

Former Secretary of State under President Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton has gone on the record to acknowledge this fact that the United States of America simply abandoned Pakistan post-Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. It led to a serious threat for the internal security of Pakistan with advanced weaponry i.e. stinger missiles, in the hands of several groups with diverse agenda and allegiances. Therefore, Pakistan did not go all ablaze on everyone fighting in Afghanistan as the U.S wanted.

But it seems that Pakistan is gradually offsetting itself to a stance which resonates, apparently, with the aspirations of United States. Foreign Office of Pakistan maintains that it supports “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process”. Primarily there are two underlying factors behind this approach.

After boycotting the second round of negotiations in Riyadh, Taliban have stated loud and clear that they do not like to be pushed around, even when it is mighty Saudi Arabia at the other end.

In case of a Taliban takeover, chances are that Afghan civil war is going to prolong since Afghanistan is a multiethnic nation comprised of Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks while Taliban are predominantly Pashtuns. An inflammatory western neighbor would create space for the eastern adversary of Pakistan to wage its dirty war, as it happens right now, and it would continue to be a National Security disaster for Pakistan.

Secondly, “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process” hints at the possibility that Afghans are most likely to opt for what is best for themselves in the long run, instead of allowing foreigners, such as the U.S, to extract a strategic leverage by maintaining its bases inside Afghanistan to keep a watch over Pakistan, China and to some extent Russia as well.

Pushing Taliban can be Counterproductive

After boycotting the second round of negotiations in Riyadh, Taliban have stated loud and clear that they do not like to be pushed around, even when it is mighty Saudi Arabia at the other end.

Read more: Peace in Afghanistan not possible without Pakistan, Says U.S General

Hence, Pakistan while trying to bring them to reason must exercise caution as several analysts already believe that the country simply doesn’t have the influence over the group which it once used to enjoy. National and regional security should be at the core of efforts while Pakistan continues to play its role as the mediator.


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