News / Asia

Pakistani Analysts Respond to Former UN Official's Criticism

Sean Maroney

The former envoy to Afghanistan for the United Nations, Kai Eide, has criticized Pakistan for arresting top Taliban leaders, such as the group's second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar last month.  Speaking to the BBC, Eide said the arrests hurt reconciliation efforts by stopping secret talks between the United Nations and the Taliban, which started about a year ago. 

In a recent television interview, the U.N.'s former special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said he believes "the Pakistanis did not play the role that they should have played" when they arrested top Taliban leaders.

He said he believes the Pakistani government must have known about the U.N.-brokered peace talks with the Taliban and that the arrests were counterproductive to those efforts.

Pakistan's former interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, says he would like to remind the former U.N. representative that Pakistan has carried a heavy burden since the U.S.-led invasion into Afghanistan toppled the Taliban eight years ago.

"I think the role Pakistan has played, no other country has played that role," he said.  "And if you look at the casualties, you look at the human suffering, you look at what we are going through, our economy has suffered, everything has suffered."

He says he believes the Pakistani government made these arrests under the impression that they were in the best interest for the Pakistani people and the rest of the region.

Ishtiaq Ahmad, an associate professor for international relations at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University, says Kai Eide's comments reflect a concern that Pakistan is trying to sabotage the Afghan government's efforts to reconcile with the Taliban.

He says the reasoning for this comes from the perception that Kabul is leaving Islamabad out of the reconciliation process by approaching the Taliban leadership directly without any Pakistani help.

"It might have created, you know, some kind of insecurity among Pakistanis and they might have taken this action, but again, it is all speculative," he said.

Ahmad also says Pakistan now finds itself in an even more complicated diplomatic position.

He points to years of U.S. pressure on Pakistani authorities to "do more" to target Taliban members who fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

"If Pakistan does not arrest a Taliban leader, then there is a complaint that Pakistan is not doing enough," he said. "And when it does arrest, and then there is, you know, this new kind of complaint."

Ahmad says that in the end, a political resolution to the Afghan conflict is in the interest for all of Afghanistan's neighbors and stakeholders in the war-torn country.

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