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Cannot kill Taliban while inviting them to peace talks: Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that Islamabad was prepared to help revive stalled Afghan peace talks but could not bring the Taliban to the negotiating table “and be asked to kill them at the same time.”

world Updated: Oct 24, 2015 10:02 IST
File photo of Taliban fighters posing during a patrol in Ghazni province.
File photo of Taliban fighters posing during a patrol in Ghazni province. (AFP)

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that Islamabad was prepared to help revive stalled Afghan peace talks but could not bring the Taliban to the negotiating table “and be asked to kill them at the same time.”

Sharif said this on Friday while speaking at a Washington think tank a day after talks with US President Barack Obama. Although he did not elaborate further but was apparently referring to US calls for Pakistan to crack down on Taliban and other militant sanctuaries within Pakistan.

A senior official of the US administration said the United States appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to advance an Afghan-led reconciliation process, but “had repeatedly stressed that ‘kill or talk’ is not the choice.”

“A successful political process requires continued pressure on those that would seek to use violence against civilians or the state to achieve their goals,” the official said.

“We are encouraging Islamabad to take action against the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, inside Pakistan as a means to support the peace talks.”

The official added that Washington stressed in discussions with Pakistan that it expected continued cooperation against those planning attacks against US forces.

“We believe Pakistani pressure on the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, is key to forcing the Taliban leadership to question the viability of its military campaign to achieve their political goals,” the official said.

Read | Pakistan promises action against LeT; Obama, Sharif talk Indo-Pak ties

At the same time, the official said the United States welcomed Pakistan’s commitment in a joint statement with the United States on Thursday to counter all militant groups, including the Haqqani network, a militant group operating inside Afghanistan that is considered close to Pakistani intelligence.

In his speech, Sharif said Pakistan had no reason to want violence in Afghanistan.

In a joint statement on Thursday, Obama and Sharif expressed their commitment to the Afghan peace process and called on Taliban leaders to enter direct talks with Kabul, which have stalled since inaugural discussions in Pakistan in July.

The talks broke down after the Afghan intelligence agency said Taliban leader Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.