Pakistan Alone Can’t Push Afghan Taliban Into Peace Talks With Kabul

JUL 7, 2018: This week U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, Alice Wells, met with Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and other senior officials in Islamabad and Rawalpindi with a heavy agenda — Afghanistan topped the list.

While Islamabad has urged the Taliban to accept the Afghan government’s unconditional offer of peace talks, it has rejected once again U.S. demands to singlehandedly bring the insurgents’ leaders to the negotiating table.

“Pakistan has no influence whatsoever. Afghanistan is an issue for Afghans and, therefore, U.S. pressure on Pakistan is misplaced,” an insurgent official told VOA on condition of anonymity.

According to VOA, a senior Taliban official also rejected assertions Pakistan can influence and force the insurgency to reviews its policy of not holding talks with Kabul.

The Taliban refuse to engage in a peace process with what it dismisses as the “puppet” government in Kabul and demands withdrawal of all U.S.-led forces before participating in any intra-Afghan discussions.

The Islamist insurgency is seeking direct talks with Washington, saying the U.S. is its main adversary in the war.

Pakistani officials also insist that lately Russia and Iran have both increased overt contacts with the Taliban while Islamabad’s influence has receded.

At a weekly news conference on July 5, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal reiterated Pakistan’s “full support” for efforts by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to promote a peace dialogue with the Taliban to end decades of hostilities in Afghanistan.

“There is no military solution to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan. We hope that the Taliban would grab the opportunity of unconditional peace talks,” Faisal said.

The spokesman vehemently dismissed U.S. assertions that Islamabad is responsible for singlehandedly trying to bring the Taliban to the table.

“Absolutely not. We have repeatedly stated that all stakeholders in Afghanistan will have to share this responsibility and Pakistan is ready to play its role in it,” Faisal asserted.

Faisal made his remarks just two days after Wells visited the two countries and reiterated the U.S. call for Pakistan to take “sustained and decisive action” to bring the Taliban to peace talks.

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