News / Asia

    Three Questions: Pakistan and Afghan Talks with Taliban

    Three Questions: Pakistan and Afghan Talks with Taliban
    Three Questions: Pakistan and Afghan Talks with Taliban
    Ira Mellman

    The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan says high level talks between Afghanistan and Taliban members are not taking place.

    Last week, envoy RichardHolbrooke admitted to reporters in Washington that there had been some communication between Afghan officials and "provincial leaders, individual commanders" who have fought alongside the Taliban.  But he stressed they were "not hard-care ideological Taliban" who have been reaching out.

    "There's less here than meets the eye," Holbrooke told reporters after a trip to Kabul. "There is no indication at this point that the Taliban leadership wishes to change its course," he said.

    The clarification by Holbrooke comes after a senior NATO official told reporters in Brussels that NATO had facilitated contacts between top Taliban leaders and the Afghan government by granting them safe passage to meetings in Kabul.

    Suggestions of talks between Afghan officials and the Taliban without Pakistan's participation could be seen as a snub at Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's government, which has repeatedly stated that it would welcome the role of facilitator in such talks.

    Asked to comment on the reports of reported Afghan-Taliban talks, one senior Pakistani security official told the Los Angeles Times "We are out of the loop."  The official asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

    VOA spoke with Dan Markey, a Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Washington based Council on Foreign Relations, about Pakistan's possible concerns.

    Why would Pakistan object to discussions between individual Taliban leaders and Afghan officials?

    I think Pakistan is worried they can get cut out of this negotiating process. Pakistan also probably reads more into the negotiating process than is currently there, and doesn’t trust Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    Pakistan is probably a little overly worried at this stage of the game, but I think they were hoping that they could use their influence with Afghan Taliban leadership residing inside of Pakistan to really drive these talks, to really control these talks. For one reason or the other, they feel really left out than in control.

    So I don’t think they have a legitimate concern but I can understand why they are worried. I think that in general, a lot of our talks in Afghanistan are too Karzai centric.

    What do you mean "too Karzai centric"?

    I’m not convinced that Karzai has the clout, the standing in the Afghan national community to really pull off any kind of serious negotiated settlement. I’m not sure that the Taliban take him seriously, I’m not sure he can deliver a wide spectrum of Afghan public opinion in favor of any kind of settlement he might be able to engineer with the Afghan Taliban. So this is flawed and problematic in a lot of different ways. And one final way is that the United States appears to be, in some very limited ways, facilitating these pre conversations potentially leading to these negotiations, but we are not leading them. We’re not deeply involved, we’re not guiding them and we’re not setting down a clear set of rules or red lines that everybody needs to understand. So I think we’re going to find ourselves in a very reactive mode rather than driving the process in a constructive way, and I think that could be dangerous for us.

    Could or should the United States trust the Pakistani government with the history of the connection between the ISI (Pakistan Secret Service) and the Taliban?

    Trust, I think is a little bit strong in terms of what the United States should see in relationship with Pakistan on these issues, but Washington needs to understand that whether it trusts Pakistan or not, Islamabad intends to be involved in this outcome. Islamabad will want to have some influence over whatever dispensation and merges in Kabul and Afghanistan and will make it relevant. So if that means spoiling any kind of process toward a negotiated settlement, if that means upping the ante in terms of violence, and if that means being marginally helpful, it will do any of those things as long as it stays involved. So the United States needs to recognize that even if it doesn’t trust that Pakistan could necessarily deliver something, it would be beneficial to the United States to understand that Pakistan is important to the outcome.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora