Pakistan has offered to mediate with Taliban factions in return for a friendly Afghanistan and ways to stem the growing Indian presence there, the
New York Times
reported citing Pakistani and American officials.
Pakistan has told the US it wants a central role in resolving the Afghan war and has offered to mediate with Taliban factions who use its territory and have long served as its allies, the influential US daily said in a report from Islamabad on Wednesday.
The offer, aimed at preserving Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan once the Americans leave, could both help and hurt American interests as Washington debates reconciling with the Taliban, it said.
"Pakistan's army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, made clear Pakistan's willingness to mediate at a meeting late last month at NATO headquarters with top American military officials," the Times said citing a senior American military official familiar with the meeting.
"The Pakistani offer makes clear that any stable solution to the war will have to take into account Afghanistan's neighbours, in a region where Pakistan, India, China, Iran and others all jostle for power," it said.
What the Pakistanis can offer is their influence over the Taliban network of Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani, whose forces American commanders say are the most lethal battling American and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
"In return for trying to rein in the Haqqanis, Pakistan will be looking for a friendly Afghanistan and for ways to stem the growing Indian presence there," the Times said citing Pakistani and American officials.
The Americans have been pushing General Kayani to launch an offensive against the Haqqanis' base in North Waziristan, it said. But General Kayani, who pleased the Americans with an operation against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan last autumn, is not prepared to do so.
"There is no need at this point to start a steamroller operation in North Waziristan," he told reporters last week, according to the Times.
Last month he took General Stanley McChrystal, commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, on a helicopter tour over the mountains of the Swat Valley, where Pakistani paratroopers landed last summer to flush out Taliban insurgents.
"The message was that the Pakistani Army still regarded India as its primary enemy and was stretched too thin to open a new front," The Times said.
"The reluctance to take on the Haqqanis preserves them as both a prize to be delivered at the negotiating table and a potential asset for Pakistan in postwar Afghanistan," the US daily said citing Syed Rifaat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University who is close to the Pakistani Army.