Pakistan is rejecting Afghan demands for military action against Taliban commanders within Pakistan and emphasizes the need to continue talks for a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan.
On March Pakistani foreign policy adviser has indicated in a talk at Washington’s Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that the leadership of Afghan Taliban is living in Pakistan.
In Islamabad Tuesday, Pakistani foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz dismissed demands by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that Pakistan evict Taliban insurgents through military action or arrest and hand them over to Kabul for trial and punishment for killing innocent Afghans. Ghani recently announced that Afghanistan will not seek Pakistan’s help in arranging reconciliation talks with the Taliban.
Aziz called Afghan outrage at Pakistan an expression of frustration because they (Afghan leaders) were expecting reconciliation talks would have started by now and led to a reduction in violence. He said it is unfortunate the Taliban has gone ahead with its spring offensive and negotiations have also not started.
The Pakistani adviser, however, also said the insurgency has been unable to make significant advances in the fighting and has not captured any territory. He said that if stability persists on the battlefield, it could push the Taliban to the talks with the Afghan government.
Aziz said Pakistan has not yet come to that stage because officials believe it is premature; but Afghanistan is pushing Pakistan to urgently examine and take action against Taliban leaders. Aziz added that Islamabad is telling Kabul the military option has been applied since 2001 but has not ended the Afghan conflict, referring to the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
He said, “The reconciliation option cannot materialize in just two to four weeks and should be given due time because it is the only way to bring peace to Afghanistan.”
Aziz said Pakistan will continue to pursue efforts together with the United States and China for a peaceful resolution of the Afghan war. He added that a Taliban delegation from its political office in Qatar also visited Pakistan last week as part of the “exploratory contacts” Islamabad is making to facilitate Afghan peace talks.
Pakistan has long been accused by international circles of protecting the Afghan Taliban so as to use them as a proxies in Afghanistan with an aim to curtail Indian influence in its western neighborhood.