Pakistani warnings conveyed privately to Washington: Report
WASHINGTON : The United States is trying to prevent simmering tensions between India and Pakistan from impacting a third country: Afghanistan, where a fragile peace push is underway to try to end more than 17 years of war with Taliban insurgents.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has been publicly focused on lowering tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals since a Feb. 14 suicide car bomb in an Indian-controlled area of Kashmir triggered the first Indian air strikes inside of Pakistan since a 1971 war.
Senior US officials told Reuters that as the United States spoke with senior Pakistani officials, emphasizing the need to lower the risk of conflict with India, Islamabad privately offered warnings on Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials said their ability to support Afghan peace talks could be in jeopardy in the event of a full-blown crisis, US officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They’ll stop being a facilitator, they will stop the pressure they are applying” on the Taliban, one US official said, recounting Pakistani warnings conveyed to Washington.
Pakistan has publicly denied any role in the suicide bombing. But the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group claimed responsibility for it, and India has long accused Islamabad of supporting them.
The United States has likewise accused Pakistan of ties to Taliban militants who are fighting in neighboring Afghanistan against American and US-backed Afghan government forces.
Reuters has previously reported, however, that U.S. officials have recently seen a positive shift in Pakistan’s behavior.
Pakistan, long at odds with the United States over the war in Afghanistan, has played a behind-the-scenes role in supporting US peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, including by facilitating travel to negotiations.
Current and former US officials caution that Islamabad could again choose to act as a spoiler. - Agencies