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Afghan peace talks and Pakistan

 By: Sharif Nuhaaq Baloch

Khalilzad’s recent visit to Pakistan is part of a larger two-week tour where he is also visiting China, India and Afghanistan for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan as talks between the Taliban and the US hit a snag earlier this month over a potential ceasefire in 2019.

The Trump administration wants Afghanistan’s neighbors, particularly Pakistan, to use their influence to persuade the Taliban to stay engaged and accept the puppet Kabul government. The US government’s announcement in the preceding month showed complete disgrace towards Pakistan as Trump stated “Pakistan has given us nothing but lies and deceit”. But despite these statements, US delegates continue to come to Pakistan for Afghan peace talks, which indicate how important Pakistan is for the entire process. This affirmation has compelled the US administration to believe that only Islamabad can play a key role in making this peace long term and viable in the region.

Last week, the US once again sent its special envoy for Afghanistan to the region with the task to convince Pakistan, India and China to work together to ensure the success of the Afghan peace initiative. Simultaneously, it’s unlikely that the Trump administration would encourage further isolation of Pakistan in current circumstances, unlike the previous US administration.

Notwithstanding Pakistan welcomed the US wholeheartedly, and pledged to participate in this peace initiative because Pakistan also wants this war to end as it has swallowed numerous lives from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. We hope that this time the US, Pakistan and some invisible powers would avoid playing foul on the Afghan land.

Published in The Balochistan Point on February 11, 2019

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