ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has conveyed to the US administration that cooperation, not ‘coercion’, is the way forward when it comes to bringing a peaceful end to the continuing war in Afghanistan, according to a Voice of America report.
The report said that the Pakistani side gave the message during US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent visit to Islamabad. Tillerson during his visit met with the civil-military leadership of the country, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Tillerson stayed in the country for four hours and had a discussion on regional counterterrorism efforts, while the endorsement of peace talks between the Afghan government and warring Taliban also came under discussion.
COAS Bajwa and Tillerson held a one-on-one meeting as well, in which the latter asked the former for action against terrorists on Pakistani soil.
The report stated that Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Asif Ghafoor said that the meeting between the two was “candid, frank and without mincing words”.
The ISPR DG said the COAS emphasised on cooperation and not on coercive tactics. He said that Pakistan believes in the Afghan-led peace process and deems reconciliation the only tool for ending the war.
The ISPR DG said that Pakistan has contributed a lot to enduring regional peace and stability, and keeping Pakistan’s interest supreme.
Pakistan doesn’t have safe havens on its soil and the security forces have brought an end to militancy within the country, he said.
The report said that Pakistani officials maintained that the US continues the use of hard power, “despite knowing the policy has not worked during the past 16 years”.
US President Donald Trump in his latest Afghan strategy has approved more military deployments in support of the Afghan forces against the Taliban.
The publication said that the Pakistani officials stated that Afghanistan and the US need to offer the Taliban a peace process first, relying on the ‘Qatar office’ of the militants.
The policy would help weed out the ones, not in favour of a dialogue and help refocus priorities against the “irreconcilables”, the report said.
The recent US-Pakistan meeting of officials did not help bridge the gap on the issue of Afghan peace process and how to make the first move.
Pakistan reiterated that the Afghan government has a lot to do in terms of creating a conducive environment for a dialogue.
The Taliban stand by its stance of not engaging in peace talks or negotiations until unless all the foreign troops leave its soil and let Afghans take the charge.