ISLAMABAD: US President Donald Trump’s point-person for the region on Monday visited Islamabad and held crucial talks with senior authorities on how to resurrect the moribund Afghan peace process.
Ambassador Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the foreign office. The foreign office confirmed the meeting but both sides remained tightlipped about outcome of the talks.
Officials and diplomatic sources, however, told The Express Tribune that agenda was to find a common ground on the Afghanistan endgame. Wells, according to some sources, urged Pakistan to do more to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.
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She also pointed out that the US has eliminated the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah, the most wanted terrorist in Pakistan, in the hope that this would address Islamabad’s concerns over the presence of terrorist sanctuaries across the border.
The foreign secretary acknowledged the US and Afghan efforts while emphasising that Pakistan is doing its best to play a role of a ‘facilitator’ in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
The US official, however, appeared to be not convinced with Pakistan’s efforts and wanted it to redouble efforts for persuading the Taliban insurgents to come the negotiating table.
Before coming to Islamabad, Wells was in Kabul where she indicated that the Taliban leadership was in Pakistan and that the neighbouring country should do more to convince them for talks.
“Right now it’s the Taliban leaders… who aren’t residing in Afghanistan, who are the obstacle to a negotiated political settlement,” Wells had said in Kabul earlier. She insisted that Islamabad needed to do more to squeeze the Taliban to engage in talks.
“Pakistan has an important role to play… but we have not yet seen that sustained and decisive action on the part of Islamabad. It’s going to be very hard for us to achieve our objectives… if Pakistan isn’t working with us,” she added.
Trump's aide to discuss Afghan peace in Islamabad
Wells statement just ahead of her meetings with Pakistani officials suggested the frustration on part of the Trump administration about Islamabad role or lack of it in the Afghan peace process.
But far from Wells assessment, the Afghan government seemed to be satisfied with Pakistan’s recent peace efforts. On Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani said Pakistan and Afghanistan had worked out a roadmap for the Afghan peace. He, however, would not provide further details.
After months of tensions, relations between Islamabad and Kabul have seen an improvement in the recent weeks due to frantic efforts from both sides. The two neighbours have developed a framework where they have agreed to discuss and sort out all bilateral issues as well as the Afghan peace process.
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