- Major reason for stalemate in peace process is due to lack of ‘credible peace plan’ by US, Afghan govt
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has conveyed to the United States (US) that the failure of the Afghan government and United States (US) to come up with a “credible peace plan” to attract belligerent Afghan Taliban to the dialogue table was the major reason of the stalemate in the regional peace process.
The message was conveyed during the recent visit of US State Department Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ambassador Alice Wells, who had visited Islamabad on January 15-16.
Background interviews with some of the key federal cabinet members privy to the dialogue process disclosed that Ambassador Wells had only two agenda items for her visit — action against Haqqani Network, and discussions on coming up with a strategy to bring the Taliban to the table.
Moreover, Pakistan asked the Afghan government to come up with a “credible peace plan” in the key upcoming meeting scheduled to be held on February 28 this year that could attract the belligerent Afghan Taliban to the table.
The US is concerned about the Afghan Taliban’s Spring Offensive due in March. With the Afghan government’s failure to handle the situation even in capital Kabul, the concern of the US administration looks genuine.
Regarding the Spring Offensive, Pakistan informed the US that it was not responsible for the spring move and it could not do much either to stop the offensive as it had a little influence on the Taliban leadership due to successive military operations against the militants.
Islamabad told the US officials that it will do whatever it could to avert the worsening scenario, adding Pakistan’s influence on Taliban should not be exaggerated as Taliban are a loose group with many factions working independently.
PAKISTAN CONCERNED OVER NEW US POLICY:
Pakistan has also raised concerns over the new US policy–announced by the Trump admin in August that seeks a greater role of India in the region– on South Asia and the unabated ceasefire violations by Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary.
The new policy needs an immediate review, Pakistan said, adding the US state department needs to strike a balance in its policy.
Pakistan also informed Wells that the recent statement of the Indian army chief reflected that India is heating up the LoC which may incite a nuclear conflict in South Asia. In past 14 days, Indians has violated ceasefire agreement over 100 times.
Wells responded to Pakistan’s concerns, saying that the concerns are legitimate and the US would keep talking to India to observe restraint. She also admitted that Pakistan has legitimate concerns regarding Afghanistan government’s failure, especially on the border management and the ‘safe heavens’ of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan.
She also admitted the fact that “mutual respect and trust building” should be given due consideration in bilateral relations, adding that threats of cutting off assistance would only harm the decades-old relationship of Pakistan and US.
Both sides also agreed for intelligence sharing on the Haqqani Network and any other potential threat in the region.
Wells was also informed that Pakistan could not manage 648-kilometre-long Pak-Afghan border [on its own] in the south, adding that despite repeated assurances, the Afghan and US forces have yet not fenced the border on the Afghan side.
Moreover, Afghan forces must be deployed to ensure effective border management.
TALKS WITH AFGHAN GOVERNMENT:
Islamabad has communicated to the Afghan government that a meeting should be held soon to discuss the contentious regional issues. The working groups’ meeting include military-to-military, intelligence-to-intelligence, and political reconciliation and normalisation process.