Afghan peace talks collapse a ‘diplomatic test’ for Pakistan

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Shafaqna Pakistan : The sudden move by US President Donald Trump to pull out of the talks with the Taliban will not only jeopardise the prospects of peace in Afghanistan, but also throw a new challenge for Pakistan at a time when its hands are already full dealing with other foreign policy issues.

In its official reaction to the sudden US move, the Foreign Office called on all sides for restraint and reminded them of the commitment to pursue peace.

“Pakistan has been facilitating the peace and reconciliation process in good faith and as a shared responsibility, and has encouraged all sides to remain engaged with sincerity and patience.”

Interaction with officials, who deal with the foreign policy matters, reveal that Pakistan knew that the road to peace would be bumpy but never expected talks to breakdown when peace accord was about to be signed by the US and the Taliban.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity since they were not authorised to speak to the media on the subject.

One official disclosed that Pakistan knew that Trump would be having a secret meeting with senior Taliban leaders at Camp David and was hopeful that the unprecedented meeting would pave the for the much-needed peace in Afghanistan.

Islamabad is now worried over the sudden breakdown in talks because it fears that the new situation may put more pressure on Pakistan to do more to convince the Taliban for a ceasefire.

President Trump, although canceled the peace talks and a would-be secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David over the killing of an American soldier in Thursday’s attack in Kabul, there is a feeling in Pakistan that there might be other reasons that compelled the US to take the drastic step.

Even analysts and commentators in the US are questioning if the killing of a solider was the actual reason. They say if that was the case the US should not have entered into talks with the Taliban in first place since this year alone 16 US servicemen were killed by the insurgents.

One possible reason behind the Trump’s last minute decision may be to persuade the Taliban to agree to a permanent ceasefire, something the group has long resisted.

If that was the actual reason, this may bring Pakistan’s role in the spotlight once again as the Trump administration is likely to ask Islamabad to play its role.

“The US is likely to make Pakistan a scapegoat if it fails to strike a deal with the Taliban on its terms,” cautioned defence analyst Lt General (retd) Amjad Shoaib.

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