Peace with Taliban: Kabul wants Islamabad to play visible role

Published: December 15, 2014
A Pakistan official, who wished not to be identified, dismissed the perception that Pakistani security apparatus enjoyed the level of influence that it once had over the Afghan Taliban. PHOTO: REUTERS

A Pakistan official, who wished not to be identified, dismissed the perception that Pakistani security apparatus enjoyed the level of influence that it once had over the Afghan Taliban. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan has asked Pakistan to play a more ‘visible’ role in persuading the Afghan Taliban to come to the negotiation table in a move suggesting that Kabul continues to believe that Islamabad still holds the key for an elusive peace deal.

The request for Pakistan’s proactive role in a possible peace deal, comes from the new administration in Afghanistan led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr Abullah Abdullah, diplomatic sources told The Express Tribune.

The change of government in Kabul, after a decade of rule by former president Hamid Karzai, is seen as a new beginning for both neighbours to move away from an acrimonious relationship of mistrust to one built on mutual cooperation.

But that cooperation appears to be hinged on Pakistan’s role in brokering a deal between Afghanistan and insurgents.

The Afghan president during his recent visit to Islamabad sought Pakistan’s help in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.

His request for help stems from the widely held perception that Pakistan’s security establishment, because of its historic ties with the Taliban, can still push insurgents to make peace with the Ghani administration.

“There is a strong perception in Afghanistan that Pakistan’s security establishment still controls the Taliban, despite denial by Pakistan,” commented a western diplomat, who is engaged with both Islamabad and Kabul.

“I think reality lies between the two extremes,” the diplomat added saying that clear Pakistan support for peace talks in Afghanistan backed by practical steps could go a long away in addressing the longstanding misgivings between the two neighbours.

Despite the recent flurry of diplomatic initiatives aimed at generating a better appreciation of Pakistan’s limited influence in Afghanistan and its willingness to facilitate the peace process, western diplomats continue to hold the view that fears of a possible ‘proxy war’ between Pakistan and India in post-2014 Afghanistan might compel authorities in Islamabad to keep their options open.

Islamabad has publicly insisted that it cannot lead the peace process in Afghanistan and has repeatedly said that it is ready to play the role of a facilitator. A senior Pakistani official contended that the country was doing whatever it could to help facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

The official, who wished not to be identified, also dismissed the perception that Pakistani security apparatus enjoyed the level of influence that it once had over the Afghan Taliban.

The ongoing military offensive in North Waziristan Agency, where fighters from the deadliest Afghan insurgent network – the Haqqanis – have also been targeted in a ‘clear manifestation of our policy to act against all groups without any discrimination,’ the official argued.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif during his two-week long trip to the United States earlier this month, tried to convince his American interlocutors that Pakistan had no favorites in Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2014.


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Reader Comments (12)

  • antony
    Dec 15, 2014 - 3:11AM

    Interesting point from the official “tried to convince his American interlocutors ” .So Americans were asking for Haqqani network leaders names who have been killed or arrested or some proof thereof for the actions taken by the pakistani army against them.. 1 billion dollar budgeted in american bill owing to the promise of the pakistani general with US defense secretary closely watching over the progress every 3 months .


  • Shuaib
    Dec 15, 2014 - 3:49AM

    Afghans should come to terms with the fact we’re doing everything in our capacity to help them!!


  • Khattak
    Dec 15, 2014 - 4:10AM

    Pakistan has been able to bring Taliban to Qatar on US request. Besides US is monitoring any signs of change in relationship with Haqanis, so far there is no change. Kabul knows that the suicide bombers killing Afghan school children & kids playing volleyball are Haqani criminal network. Though it may be our national interest & feasible to fight India in Afghanistan by proxies but the Pashtun area across the Durand Line will have very strong blow backs. Taliban & Hqanis have already lost its credibility in the area. Except for few suicide bombers they have nothing to offer. They may join IS for the commonly acceptable cause of Muslim Brotherhood & Khilafa. IS will have all help at its disposal to have the nuclear power Pakistan as an ultimate prize. The ball is in the court of Pakistan which way they want to go.


  • Rex Minor
    Dec 15, 2014 - 5:41AM

    The author should cut out this cacophony; there will be no peace in the region until the occupation ends in afghanistan and Pakistan army returns to their barracks outside the towns and villages.
    The resistance will disappear throughout the region making police to work with the people and not against them.

    Rex Minor


  • G Griselda
    Dec 15, 2014 - 5:54AM

    Sight alignment and trigger squeeze are two very good methodologies when dealing with illiterate
    religious fundamentalists from a tribal culture that has no regard for human rights, women, democracy, honesty, diversity or the rights of their fellow man.
    No need to discuss anything.
    Sight alignment.
    Trigger squeeze.


  • Providence
    Dec 15, 2014 - 7:53AM

    The ‘agencies’ are too invested in the Haqqani network to start tearing it down now.Recommend

  • Azi
    Dec 15, 2014 - 8:08AM

    A bullet in head of Talibans, its the ONLY peace they know. Dont make the same mistake of trusting a snake not to bite.


  • Np
    Dec 15, 2014 - 12:53PM

    Sure. Just because you say so -even as Afghan Taliban and Haqqanis with safe havens in Pakistan continue to attack Afghanistan.


  • Tranquil Aisha
    Dec 15, 2014 - 3:19PM

    no more Pakistan help later afgan put blame on us and bash us Stay away from them Pakistanis , time to clean our own house


  • WeWillWin
    Dec 15, 2014 - 5:40PM

    Pakistan should grab this opportunity and try to exhaust any option available. Friendship and trust with Afghans, will eventually help eradicate taliban from the region. So far Gen. Raheel Sharif is doing a great job, and level of trust have improved between US, Pak and Afghan. US giving head of TTP back to Pak is big milestone. I hope peace prevails in both the countries


    Dec 15, 2014 - 8:48PM

    The recent meetings between Afghanistan and Pakistan clearly suggest that both countries wish to see peace prevail throughout the Af/Pak region, and furthermore, the leaders are willing to build on the improving relationship and address any shared concerns. The recent transfer of a senior Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader, Latifullah Mehsud, signifies the importance of team work between Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. It is no secret that the terrorist organizations like the TTP and the Haqqani Network have taken full advantage of the divide between both countries by regularly infiltrating the region with their acts of terror. We remain fully confident in regards to the future of the Af/Pak region, and wish to see the regional partners working together to negate the common threat of terrorism. Last month, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard G. Olson, praised confidence-building measures by both sides, including Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Ambassador Olson said: “I think there is quite genuinely a basis for a new relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both sides are aware of this historical moment and making efforts to seize it.”

    Ali Khan
    Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOM


  • Afghan Maihan
    Dec 15, 2014 - 10:55PM

    @ G Griselda

    The leaders of these so called illiterate fundamentalists are educated people from Lahore and Raiwind, do you prescribe the slight alignment and trigger squeeze method for them too? Don’t just blame the foot soldiers and ignore the well heeled ideologues that are chameleons and shape shifters.


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