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Pakistan’s Role in Afghan Peace Efforts

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Despite the fact that the talks between Afghan and Pakistani officials in Brussels had no tangible results, the Afghan government is pushing for Pakistan’s cooperation with the Afghan peace process. Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul said on Friday that Afghanistan needs political support of outside stakeholders, particularly Pakistan, in the Afghan peace process.

Speaking at the Heart of Asia Conference participants in Almaty, Rassoul said Afghanistan was keeping its international and regional partners engaged in the efforts for peace in Afghanistan. Moreover, according to a report by the BCC, Afghanistan has asked Pakistan to use its influence in brining some senior members of the Taliban to the negotiation table with the government of Afghanistan.

As the complete withdrawal of the US-led international alliance is looming, Afghanistan is facing few options for reaching peace with the insurgent groups. Both Afghanistan and the US believe a peace deal with the Taliban is the best option for ending the conflict, which Afghanistan is going to face it alone. And the role of Pakistan is considered as crucial in any sort of political settlement with the Taliban.

At their London meeting, Afghan and Pakistani presidents set a six-month time-frame for peace in Afghanistan. But since then, both sides have traded accusations against each other. Pakistani has kept continuing playing with its previous cards making demands that is too difficult for Kabul to come up with accepting them.

Among Islamabad’s demands is limitation of Indian presence in Afghanistan. But Afganistan sees India one of its closest allies in the region, as New Delhi has provided Afghanistan with billions of dollars of aid. Pakistan has also been seeking other demands from Kabul such as contributing training Afghan army and signing a strategic pact which tacitly recognizes the Border Line.

Islamabad’s demands and preconditions for its cooperation infuriated Afghan government that has labeled them as ‘unacceptable’. The latest talks between Afghan and Pakistani officials in Brussels also failed as the two sides didn’t reach any agreement and remained silent on details of the meeting, mediated by the US Secretary of State John Kerry.

It seems that Islamabad is buying time until the NATO alliance is withdrawn from Afghanistan. Pakistan has long pursued the strategy of seeking for ‘a friendly government in Kabul’ and spared no effort to pressurize Kabul to comply with its demands particularly regarding the level of presence of its ole foe in the country.

During the past decade, Pakistan supported the Taliban with letting them have their safe havens in the tribal Northwestern areas and their leadership in Quetta. And now, as  the US is withdrawing, Islamabad is playing with its cards: to wait for complete withdrawal of NATO and seek its demands from the Afghan government.

This is while Pakistan itself is paying dearly for its support to the militant groups in Afghanistan. As the country is on the path to general election, the militant group of the Pakistani Taliban and other extremist groups have turned Pakistani cities into horrific scenes of bloodbath. Ironically, Pakistanis think it is worth to continue the game in Afghanistan with the consequences in Pakistani cities.

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