Pakistan sends a clear message to Washington: Sources

Pakistan sends a clear message to Washington: Sources
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ISLAMABAD - Pakistan does not support any group in Afghanistan including Taliban, Islamabad has told Washington and Kabul.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan was trying to convince both the countries about its neutrality.

“We support Taliban talks but we don’t support any group. We only support peace,” said one official, citing the recent contacts with the US and Afghanistan .

Another official the US had urged Pakistan to cooperate in the US-Taliban dialogue process. He added Afghanistan had not responded ‘positively’ but promised to ‘work together.’

“Pakistan has been very clear that we will continue to support the Afghan peace process,” he said.

Earlier, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of Afghanistan’s former warlords, alleged there is “no doubt” that Pakistan supports the Afghan Taliban.

In an interview, Hekmatyar also expressed hope that talks scheduled this week between the Western-backed Kabul government and the Taliban could prove a significant step towards ending the war.

The US and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for the militants, a claim rejected by Islamabad.

Hekmatyar said that Pakistan now sees the war in Afghanistan as “more harmful” than beneficial to its interests, especially because of a crippling financial crisis and growing international pressure on Islamabad to clamp down on the Taliban.

Washington has said Pakistan is playing a positive role in the ongoing US-Taliban peace talks in Qatar that are aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war.

US and Taliban negotiators have held several rounds of talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, culminating in the basic framework of a potential peace deal in which the militants would prevent international terrorist groups from basing themselves in Afghanistan in exchange of a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan .

That framework deal is dependent on a political settlement among Afghans, including the Kabul government, the Taliban, and opposition figures.

The Taliban long refused to talk with Kabul, calling it a US “puppet,” although Kabul has said a government delegation will meet the Taliban for introductory talks in Doha on April 19.

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