ISLAMABAD: After observing the first round of Pakistan-facilitated Afghan peace process from the sidelines, the US is ready to play a more proactive role in the second rounds of tripartite talks among Islamabad, Kabul and the Taliban.
“Pakistan has played an important role in bringing the two sides to the table. We are happy to have accessed the first round as an observer. We will be happy to play the observer’s role or any other role we are asked in the next round,” US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) Daniel F Feldman said during his interaction with journalists at the US embassy on Wednesday.
Feldman has been serving as a special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2009, first as deputy and then as the principal deputy to ambassadors Richard Holbrooke, Mac Grossman and James Dobbins before taking over as the special envoy. This was his last visit to the region as SRAP as he would be replaced by a new envoy in a few weeks.
In what is being considered a significant development, the first round of direct talks between Kabul and Taliban was held on July 8 in Murree with the next round likely on July 31 (tomorrow).
The top US diplomat on Af-Pak considers this a positive development and lauded the role played by Pakistan to facilitate these talks. He also appreciated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s quest to bring peace to his war-torn country by reaching out to the Taliban.
Feldman also welcomed China’s desire to play a more active role in the Afghan peace process.
He said the US wanted the Taliban break their ties with al Qaeda, accept the Afghan constitution and respect women rights.
Mullah Omar’s death
When asked about the BBC’s report on Taliban chief Mullah Omar’s death, the US diplomat neither confirmed nor denied the news, saying the US authorities were in contact with Afghan government and “others in the region” to verify that.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2015.