Islamabad has refused to heed the Afghan government’s demands to take military action against Taliban commanders operating in Pakistan, which is pushing for a negotiated resolution to the 15 years of war in neighboring Afghanistan, Voice of America (VOA) reports.
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s foreign policy adviser, argues that the length of the ongoing U.S.-led war, which began in October 2001, is evidence that a military option is not the answer to ending the conflict.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has demanded that Pakistan use its military to evict, arrest, and hand over Taliban jihadists accused of killing innocent Afghan civilians to the government Kabul for trial and prosecution.
“I want to make it clear that we do not expect Pakistan to bring the Taliban to [peace] talks,” Ghani told Afghan lawmakers on April 25. “If we do not see a change, despite our hopes and efforts for regional cooperation, we will be forced to turn to the U.N. Security Council and launch serious diplomatic efforts.”
President Ghani recently declared that Pakistan will no longer be part of the effort to convince the Taliban to engage in reconciliation talks with the Afghan government. Ghani has suggested that peace negotiations with the Taliban are no longer an option. In fact, Ghani has reportedly declared that rather than holding peace negotiations, the Afghan security forces would fight the Taliban and other terrorist groups directly.
U.S. and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to the Taliban and other terrorist groups. The Taliban recently sent a delegation from is political office in Qatar to Islamabad.
Although the Taliban claimed the peace negotiations were not on the agenda, anonymous diplomatic sources told VOA that the delegation was expected to engage in “exploratory discussions” with Pakistani officials as part of Islamabad’s efforts to facilitate peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Afghanistan condemned Pakistan’s decision to allow what the Ghani administration called a “terrorist organization,” the Taliban, to visit Islamabad.
VOA quoted Aziz as saying: “It is unfortunate the Taliban has gone ahead with its spring offensive and negotiations have also not started.”
The Pakistani official reportedly recognized that the Taliban’s move must have been frustrating for Afghan leaders because “reconciliation talks would have started by now and led to a reduction in violence” had it not been for the jihadist group’s decision to start their offensive.
“The Pakistani adviser, however, also said the insurgency has been unable to make significant advances in the fighting and has not captured any territory,” notes VOA. “He said that if stability persists on the battlefield, it could push the Taliban to the talks with the Afghan government.”
Pakistan believes is too early to push the Taliban towards the peace talks, according to Aziz. Nevertheless, Afghanistan has been urging Pakistan to force the Taliban to do so.
“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,” he said.