Pakistan has limited influence over Afghan Taliban: Ambassador in KABUL

Pakistan has limited influence over Afghan Taliban: Ambassador in KABUL
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KABUL - The Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah Khan has confirmed that the Taliban group has good contacts with the regional countries as he admits that Pakistan has limited influence over the group.

Khan made the remarks during an interview with The Diplomat and in response to a question regarding President Ghani’s offer to Taliban for peace and the influence of Pakistan to encourage the group for participation in peace talks.

“We have communicated this to the international community, including the U.S., that one thing needs to be understood: the Afghan character is very independent. Even when the Soviets withdrew in 1989, and we had a lot of influence with the mujahideen because we stood with them in that proxy war, they never listened to us and they were never able to reach any agreement.

Then, the second instance was when Mullah Omar was in power and 9/11 happened. Pakistan was the [only] country that was recognizing that government, even the UAE and Saudi Arabia had stepped back, but he never listened to us,” the Pakistani Ambassador said.

“So yes, we have influence, but limited influence. You cannot expect Pakistan to guarantee that they will listen to us – they may not listen to us. And also within the regional environment there are now also other countries with which Taliban have good contacts, their leadership especially,” he added.

This comes as the Afghan and US officials have long been insisting that the Taliban receives support from Russia and Iran apart from Pakistan.

Following a coordinated Taliban attack on Farah city, the Afghan defense minister said on Saturday that the recent violence in Farah province has links with the management of the water resources, apparently pointing towards Iran’s concerns regarding the management of water resources flowing from Afghanistan.

The US Department of Defense or Pentagon officials had earlier said that they are not ruling out the involvement of Iran in a major offensive carried out by the Taliban militants in western Farah city of Afghanistan.

“I don’t think you can ever rule out how much Iran interferes throughout this region. Iran remains the most destabilizing factor in the Middle East. So no, I don’t think you can ever rule out their mischief,” a spokesperson for Pentagon Dana White said.

Foreign Policy