Pakistan’s national security adviser said on Wednesday (Aug 4) that Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban must both compromise and reach a peace settlement as the insurgents make rapid gains amid a US troop withdrawal.
Wrapping up a week of talks in Washington, Moeed Yusuf played down the level of influence on the Taliban played by Pakistan, which was one of only three nations to recognise the hardline Islamist regime that was toppled in a US invasion after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.
“We have made it absolutely clear – we will not accept a forceful takeover,” he told reporters.
“But the world also needs to be clear that the US is invested in a political settlement.”
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He said that the internationally recognised government in Kabul, which has strained ties with Pakistan, needs to stop looking for a military victory and needs to include a broader range of Afghans in any future talks.
“There will have to be some compromise given the ground reality. But the violence will have to stop,” he said.
Yusuf said that his US counterpart, Jake Sullivan, and others in President Joe Biden’s administration did not make specific requests of Pakistan but discussed “how quickly we can get all these actors in one room to have a sincere conversation.”
He dismissed talk of Islamabad exerting leverage over the Taliban, who are widely reported to have maintained a relationship with Pakistani intelligence.
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“Whatever limited leverage we had, we used,” he said, pointing to Pakistan encouraging the Taliban to enter talks with the Afghan government in Doha.
“Now with the troop withdrawal, that leverage has logically gone down further.”
He pointed to the burden of Afghanistan’s long-running war on Pakistan, home to some 3.5 million Afghan refugees.
“We under no circumstances are prepared to see protracted instability that in the past has caused spillover into Pakistan,” he said.
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