Sunday, 10 February 2019

Pakistan playing a big role behind the scenes in US-Taliban talks

 One senior US official, who declined to be identified, said of Pakistan's role in the talks: "We know it just wouldn't be possible without their support."

WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR: Pakistan, long at odds with the US over the war in Afghanistan, has begun to play a behind-the-scenes but central role in supporting US peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, including by facilitating travel to negotiations, US officials and Taliban sources said. 

 Pakistan's assistance also includes exerting pressure on Taliban leaders who fail to cooperate, including by detaining members of the militants' families, the insurgents say. 

Pakistan's role in the peace negotiations is a delicate one, with Islamabad seeking to avoid demonstrating the kind of broad influence over the Taliban that Washington has long accused it of having.

 Sources caution its help could be temporary. 

The Taliban also don't want to appear beholden to Islamabad, which has denied US accusations that it provides safe haven and assistance to insurgents as a way to preserve influence in Afghanistan throughout its 17-year-old war.

 One senior US official, who declined to be identified, said of Pakistan's role in the talks: "We know it just wouldn't be possible without their support." 

"They've facilitated some movement and travel to the discussions in Doha," the official said. 

 Taliban sources said Pakistan's role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table was instrumental. 

In one instance, Islamabad sent a message to the militants through religious leaders that they had to talk to the US or risk a cut-off in ties.

 They detained Taliban members' families as a way to pressure them, a Taliban leader said.

 The Taliban leader, who declined to be identified, said Pakistan had kept "unprecedented pressure" on the militants and their close relatives over the past few months. 

"They made it clear to us that we (Taliban) have to talk to the US and Afghan government," the Taliban leader said.
https://www.evolutionalblogs.com/p/two-2-3-odds.html

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