The United States has briefed Pakistan on its initial contacts with the Afghan Taliban in a move which signals the easing of months-long tensions between the two allies, whose cooperation in stabilising the war-torn country is considered essential.
The important briefing was given through Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman, who met key Obama administration officials recently, a senior government official familiar with the development told The Express Tribune.
The move signifies that, despite apparent strains in their relationship, the two countries have managed to cover considerable ground to narrow down their differences, including the way forward for the Afghan endgame.
The official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the subject, has confirmed that Islamabad was taken on board by Washington on its ‘exploratory talks’ with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar. However, he attempted to play down the hype, saying it was premature to suggest that the US was now willing to ‘show its cards’ on the Afghan reconciliation.
In the past, Washington was believed to have kept Islamabad in the dark about its peace overtures with the Taliban. The US’ reluctance to share its Afghan game plan is attributed to wildly-held suspicions in the west about Pakistan’s ‘double play’.
More recently, a leaked Nato assessment accused the country’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for supporting the Taliban to direct attacks against forces stationed in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad strongly denied.
However, notwithstanding the fresh allegations, a top American diplomat told The Express Tribune that Pakistan is now ‘responsive’ on the Afghan reconciliation process.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2012.
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