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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.