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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid