ISLAMABAD: Pakistan believes the Obama administration played the role of a ‘major spoiler’ in the Afghan peace process, a senior Pakistani official who is part of the discussions with US officials told The Express Tribune.
The official, who does not want to be identified, was speaking about the failure of efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the US.
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“There was no clarity among the Obama administration about peace talks in Afghanistan. It played the role of a major spoiler in Afghanistan,” he said. Asked as to why the QCG failed to deliver, he said “there were differences in thought because China and Pakistan were on one side and Afghanistan and the US on another.”
“We were expecting some positive results because it was a successful combination of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US. [But] Afghanistan would say whatever the US wanted it to say.”
The official said the US and Afghanistan wanted Pakistan to broker an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government before the insurgents launched their spring offensive. “But Pakistan and China were of the view that we cannot give any kind of guarantee because one party – the Taliban – was not part of the process. If the Taliban were sitting as a party to the process, then the things could be different,” he argued.
“In the last QCG meeting in Islamabad on May 18, the US did not clearly announce the end of the QCG and said they will continue efforts for peace talks with the Taliban. But three days after the QCG meeting, the US killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.” The official disputed the US claim that they had killed Mansoor because he was not coming to the table. “Has Mansoor’s successor Maulvi Haibatullah joined the peace process? If they kill Haibatullah tomorrow, it means the US is going for a military approach. But this policy has failed for 15 years,” the Pakistani official said.
When asked about the visit of the Taliban negotiators to Pakistan in October, he said Pakistan has kept up pressure on the group to come to the negotiating table. “We had put pressure on the Taliban as the QCG had been meeting those days. We had asked them to join the talks on the model of Murree or any other. Taliban had not accepted our request. Then Mullah Mansoor was killed and the Taliban went on new dynamics under the new leader.”
He said at the same time the US and Afghanistan continued blame game on Pakistan at various forums.
“The Americans would always say that Haqqanis are using Pakistani soil. We would insist that there is a national level decision on no support for terrorists and that we have taken action in Zarb-e-Azb. We had given clear messages to Afghan insurgents,” he said.
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He said Pakistan had resisted pressure to take action against Afghan insurgents.
“We told the Americans that we ourselves will decide our military actions. As Da’ish and TTP are now operating from Afghanistan, these angry Afghan groups would be attracted by the Pakistani groups on the Afghan side of the border. They would again bring terrorism and another war to Pakistan. We said we will take action but in a sequence of our own choosing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2017.
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