Pakistan taken on board by US on talks with Taliban


After its successful bid to engage the Mullah Omar-led Taliban in peace talks, the United States is strongly urging Islamabad to bring the Haqqani network to the table of negotiations as it believes that without the participation of this most powerful militant faction in the ongoing Afghanistan reconciliation process, any peace talks would be fruitless and unproductive. The Obama administration has taken Pakistan into confidence regarding Washington’s fresh peace talks with the Taliban and for that purpose the proposed Taliban office in Qatar. In an important development, Islamabad too has conveyed to Washington that it would facilitate its dialogue with the Taliban provided it is kept informed and fully in the loop about the developments on this important front. “Pakistan’s support to the US talks with the Taliban has been achieved after intense American efforts through behind-the-scene efforts that have been made after the NATO airstrike at Salala border post in Mohmand agency,” said a Pakistani official seeking anonymity. He said Pakistan had always supported peace efforts in Afghanistan and it had no problem with the forthcoming US-Taliban talks in Qatar but all it wanted was to be kept aware of the ensuing developments and also that Washington would take care of Islamabad’s genuine concerns in Afghanistan. The official did not elaborate the Pakistani concerns but generally it is about the increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan, which has been seen here with a sense of deep worry and concern. “The Obama administration now wants that Islamabad shall also ensure that the Haqqani network also takes part in the consultations and that this group extends full support to the Qatar process,” he said, adding that the US had been urging Pakistan once again to use its ‘good offices’ for the purpose.The most deadly militant organisation in Afghanistan, the Haqqani network has always talked about its allegiance to Mullah Omar, the supreme commander of the Taliban movement but the US officials have doubts that if not taken on board, this insurgent group has the potential to sabotage the US-Taliban reconciliation process.
Another Pakistani official when contacted confirmed that the US had been again demanding Pakistan to bring the ‘Haqqanis’ to the table of negotiations. He said Pakistan was willing to play its role for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Asked whether Pakistan’s support to Qatar process means that a ‘breakthrough’ in Islamabad-Washington ties, currently marred by serious tensions, is in the offing, the official said important positive developments were likely in next couple of weeks that could have positive impact on the relations between the two important nations in anti-terrorism global campaign.
He, however, refused to divulge the details and confined himself to saying “if Washington is willing to accept our demands such as apology over NATO strike and firm assurance of no such breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty in future along with some other conditions then the cooperation with US could be restored”.