Oct 04, 2019-Friday
Following the collapse of the United States-led engagement with the Afghan Taliban, Pakistan is once again fishing in the troubled waters of Afghanistan to position itself as a player in the war-torn country and shut out India. On Thursday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry rolled out the red carpet for a Taliban delegation led by Abdul Ghani Baradar, which was received by the foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Faiz Hameed.
Though the Taliban leadership visited Russia and China last month, following the stalling of the talks, they were not publicly feted. A Pakistani foreign ministry statement quoted Mr Qureshi as saying that there is no military solution to the complex situation in Afghanistan. But it made no mention of whether Pakistan had asked the Taliban to join a ceasefire — a key demand of the Afghan government and people, as well as all other countries with stakes in durable and lasting peace in the region.
Afghan commentators and experts have suggested that if Pakistan and US special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, had had their way, Afghanistan would have been unable to hold the just-concluded presidential election. A partial tally showed the turnout in last week’s election was about 20%, with many people staying away because of the Taliban threat. The time has now come for regional players to strengthen the hands of the next administration in Kabul. If Pakistan is keen to support efforts aimed at a permanent peace in Afghanistan, it should push the Taliban to give up violence and join talks with the Afghan government instead of merely seeking to extend its influence in Afghanistan.
First Published: Oct 03, 2019 17:59 IST