Pakistan’s role in thwarting intra-Afghan talks comes to fore with intensified Taliban violence
WITH an intensified Taliban-perpetrated violence in Afghanistan in recent weeks, Pakistan’s behind-the-scenes role in thwarting intra-Afghan talks in Doha and intentions of getting a Taliban dispensation in Kabul have come to the fore, a European think-tank has said in a report. As per European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) report, Pakistan’s involvement in stoking the present escalation of Taliban violence has not been debated. If Pakistan possessed enough leverage over the Taliban to get it to the negotiating table with the US, it certainly should have the clout to get the Taliban to eschew violence at a time when such violence is threatening to tear apart the US-Taliban agreement that was consequently reached.
The think tank also cited papers written by the US-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which interestingly, touched upon Pakistan’s role in stoking instability in Afghanistan. As of now, the Taliban has made it clear that intra-Afghan talks will only begin after the prisoner exchange is completed. The talks, which were scheduled to begin in March, are therefore nowhere near commencement. It stated, “The Taliban’s Quetta Shura, or senior military leadership council, continues to reside in Pakistan, as do the Taliban’s regional shuras that support the Afghan war... If Pakistan is unhelpful - or even counterproductive - in preventing stalled negotiations, the United States could consider suspending or terminating Pakistan’s non-North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (non-NATO) ally status, which offers military and financial advantages that generally are not available to non-NATO countries.” “Washington could also consider placing Pakistan on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.
After all, the US and other Western Intelligence agencies have collected an abundance of information about Pakistan’s ties to terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and India, from Lashkar-e-Toiba (fronted by Jamaat-ud-Dawa) to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network,” according to the CFR memorandum. In view of the above developments, the think tank reported that what Pakistan really wants is a pliable dispensation in Kabul that would keep its arch-rival India at an arm’s length and not allow it to build upon the goodwill that India’s political and economic contribution and elements of its soft power have helped to generate and sustain in Afghanistan over decades.
“A Taliban regime in Kabul would, in Pakistan’s assessment, serve this purpose fully. A power-sharing agreement with the present Afghan regime, on the other hand, would continue to provide India with the linkages and the space that it needs in Afghanistan,” it said. “Pakistan’s end game, therefore, appears to be a forcible and complete takeover by the Taliban. While clandestinely working towards this, the Pakistani military establishment is simultaneously putting into practice its skill, honed over generations, of hoodwinking the US into believing that it was doing all that it could to ensure the success of the US-Taliban agreement,” the think tank said further.
Fate of imprisoned Govt Forces must be clarified, says Ghani
July 18 (IANS)
AS peace talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban appeared to be imminent, President Ashraf Ghani said that the process will not move forward until the fate of the security forces held by the Taliban is clarified. The release of prisoners is one of the Taliban’s preconditions to start the much-awaited peace talks, reports TOLO News. According to the United States peace agreement with the Taliban, up to 5,000 prisoners from the Government prisons, and 1,000 security forces held by the militant group, must be released before peace talks begin.
Four months after the agreement was signed, some 4,200 Taliban prisoners have been released by the Government and about 850 Government prisoners have been released by the group. “The reason why the process of releasing Taliban’s prisoners is moving forward is because I want the fate of every prisoner of the Afghan security and defence forces to be clear. The peace process will not go on until the fate of our heroes is clarified,” Ghani said.
He also said that the people of Afghanistan will never give a Taliban emirate supremacy over the republic, and the militants should know that the people will make the final decision. On the other hand, sources close to the Taliban have said that if the process of releasing prisoners is not completed, violence in the country will increase, TOLO News reported. So far it is not clear when the peace talks will begin, but the UN had said the talks would begin in Doha in July.