US 'wary' of Pak ability to break Taliban-Qaeda nexus in Afghanistan through dialogue

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New York, Feb.10 (ANI): Pakistan's latest move offering to negotiate between Taliban factions, over which it has certain influence, such as the Haqqani group, has put the United States in a 'fix', as it could both help and hurt Washington's interests in the region.

While Pakistan is looking to play a larger role in Afghanistan and thwart India's growing influence in the war tattered country once foreign troops led by America pull out, the US is still undecided whether to take up Pakistan's reconciliation offer with the Taliban or not.

Pakistan's Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, during a meeting late last month at NATO headquarters with top American military officials, made it clear that Islamabad is willing to mediate. The latest stance is a notable departure from Pakistan's previous approach, where it had shown its reluctance to approach the Taliban.

In return for trying to rein in the Haqqanis, Pakistan will be looking for a friendly Afghanistan and for ways to stem the growing Indian presence there, The New York Times quoted some US and Pakistani officials, as saying.

But Pakistani efforts to persuade the Haqqanis to break with Al Qaeda have not made much headway till date, according to Pakistani intelligence and military officials, who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still debating the contours of any negotiated solution, US officials said.

"But a baseline for Pakistan would be for it to engineer a separation between the Haqqani network and the Qaeda leadership," they added.

The recent surge in drone attacks in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal region replicates the White House' concern in the region, as it knows that even though Islamabad is offering to negotiate between with the proscribed extremist network, it is not doing enough against extremists based in terror hot beds based inside the country.

However, for the time being the United States is looking for military help from Pakistan to clamp down the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in south Afghanistan, where the Haqqanis command an estimated 4,000 fighters.

Experts also believe that Pakistan is banking upon the Haqqani group to regain its lost influence in Afghanistan.

"Haqqani is the guy we are banking on to regain lost influence in Afghanistan. When Pakistan says we are well positioned to help, that means the Haqqanis," said Syed Rifaat Hussain, professor of international relations at Islamabad University.

Hussain, however, also seemed sceptical over the Pakistan Army's ability to force the Haqqani group to break its association with the Al-Qaeda.

"That would be a tall order for Pakistan. The question is, how much influence do we have over Haqqani? We have influence but not controlling influence," Hussain. (ANI)

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