ISLAMABAD: As key players begin intense consultations on the endgame in Afghanistan, Pakistan is said to have shared its ‘blueprint’ on Afghan future with the US, without revealing much about its stance on the role of Taliban.
The blueprint was handed over to US Vice-President Joe Biden when he took part in detailed discussions with Pakistan’s top political and military leadership last week, a senior Foreign Office official, who was part of the consultations, told The Express Tribune.
The official quoted the US Vice-President as saying that he came to Islamabad to know “what is the baseline…bottom line of Pakistan on Afghanistan endgame.”
“We told him that Pakistan wants peace, stability and a unified Afghanistan. We don’t aspire for any role in the future political dispensation of Afghanistan,” the official disclosed.
He said Biden was quite keen in knowing Pakistan’s possible role in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. “Our reply was….that Pakistan is not the spokesperson of the Afghan Taliban. You should better talk to the Afghan government,” he added.
The West, including the US, believes that Pakistan, which nurtured the Taliban through the money funnelled by the American CIA and Arab countries, still enjoys a considerable influence over the insurgents.
But Islamabad’s latest approach to keep its position ‘vague’ on the Taliban is attributed to growing mistrust with Washington.
“The Americans are not forthcoming on their future plans. Why should we show all our cards?” said a security official.
Highlighting activity in covert diplomatic channels, he said: “The Afghan Taliban leadership is in the loop.”
“We have to live with this reality that Afghan Taliban are a force to reckon in any future political settlement,” he said without elaborating.
Pakistan also pointed out ‘serious flaws’ in the Obama administration’s pullout plan which envisages a complete pullout of Afghanistan by 2014 when the Afghan National Army is supposed to take over the responsibility for the security of the war-torn country.
“There is a great disconnect between the pullout plan and the reconciliation process,” the foreign office official said.
“Look who is overseeing the process…. Gen Patreaus and other Nato commanders and then you have the reconciliation process launched by the Karzai government. Can you really reconcile the two?” he questioned. Referring to Pakistani proposals, he said: “No process being outlined in Bonn, Tokyo or Lisbon will succeed in Afghanistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2011.