Pakistan says ‘not a guarantor’ of Afghan peace process as Taliban march on
- Pakistan has been evasive on the question of the Taliban’s role in rising violence in Afghanistan even as the group continues its offensive in the war-torn country.
As the Taliban make rapid territorial gains in Afghanistan, the Pakistani military on Saturday said that Islamabad is a facilitator of the Afghan peace process and not a guarantor. In an interview with ARY News, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director-general Babar Iftikhar said that Pakistan has tried to move the Afghan peace process with “sincerity”, adding that the United States withdrawal from the region happened a “little quickly.”
"Of course other stakeholders have been a part of this, but Pakistan has played a key role," said Gen Iftikhar.
“It is still a facilitator of this peace process, we are not guarantors," he added.
Pakistan has been evasive on the question of the Taliban’s role in rising violence in Afghanistan even as the group continues its offensive in the war-torn country. Amid the final withdrawal of US troops in the region, the Taliban have taken control of most of the border areas near Iran and Tajikistan, causing immense concern for the Afghan government.
“We have always said that we have no favourites in Afghanistan. The Afghan people have to decide which government they want and how to take the country forward," said Gen Iftikhar.
Pakistan wants the US to delay the withdrawal until a transition takes place, as expressed by Gen Iftikhar during the interview, but doesn’t want to host bases on its soil. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan recently ruled out the possibility of hosting American bases for military action inside Afghanistan. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Khan argued that Pakistan cannot host American bases as they have “already paid too heavy a price.”
“If Pakistan were to agree to host US bases, from which to bomb Afghanistan, and an Afghan civil war ensued, Pakistan would be targeted for revenge by terrorists again," said Khan.
On Friday, external affairs minister S Jaishankar underlined that there is a “legitimacy aspect” to whoever gets to govern Afghanistan, adding that it "can not and should not be ignored." Speaking at a joint press conference in Moscow alongside Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, Jaishankar stressed the need for an immediate reduction in violence in Afghanistan, given its direct implication for regional security.