US Wants Pakistan to Urge Taliban to Show ‘More Flexibility’ in Dialogue
The United States is scheduled to hold another round of meetings with the Taliban this month in Qatar in a fresh bid to end the deadlock in peace talks with the Afghan insurgent group while reaching out to regional stakeholders, including Pakistan, for assistance.
The direct dialogue between the two adversaries began nearly a year ago and has achieved noteworthy progress toward ending the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan. The process has, however, stalled lately over the Taliban’s demand for all American troops to withdraw from the country before it stops fighting and participates in peace negotiations among Afghans.
A military-led massive effort is currently under way to install a robust fence along most of the 2,600-kilometer traditionally porous Afghan frontier. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
Afghanistan and Pakistan routinely accuse each other of supporting and allowing anti-state militants to orchestrate terrorist attacks against their respective soils.
Officials in Pakistan say the border security plan would effectively prevent illegal movement in both directions, addressing mutual concerns and easing tensions between Islamabad and Kabul.
Pakistan, which still hosts nearly 3 million Afghan refugees, was one of the three countries that had recognized the Taliban government in Afghanistan before it was ousted by a U.S.-led military invasion in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist strikes against the United States in 2001.
Taliban leaders have since allegedly used Pakistani sanctuaries to orchestrate insurgent attacks, charges Islamabad rejects, although it does not rule out the possibility of insurgents using Afghan refugee populations as hiding places.