Afghan officials slam Pak's 'double game' to derail peace talks with Taliban

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Kabul, Apr.10 (ANI): Senior Afghan officials have criticised Pakistan for arresting the Taliban's second-in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, saying the step has proved 'counterproductive' and derailed the process of securing peace talks with the extremists.

According to sources, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is of the opinion that insurgency in the country cannot be subdued without a political deal with Taliban leaders, and Afghan officials believe that Islamabad has undermined peace efforts by nabbing several extremist leaders in the recent past.

Some Afghan officials said that the arrest of Baradar and others has damaged their bargaining position.

"He (Baradar) was ready to go to the peace jirga. After his arrest, the process of negotiations with the Taliban has slowed. We are now in a suspended state," The Washington Post quoted a top Afghan official, who refused to be named, as saying.

Senior Afghan officials in the military and presidential palace have also accused Pakistan of orchestrating the arrest of Baradar and others to prevent the Taliban leaders from agreeing for negotiations, the newspaper said.

"There is a dire need for all of us, the international community and the Afghan government, to seek ways we can bring them peace," said Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Deputy National Security Adviser in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials pointed out that Pakistan had multiple objectives behind arresting Baradar.

Islamabad desires not let Kabul control peace talks, to maintain a degree of influence over the Taliban movement they once openly supported, officials said.

One American military official in Kabul said Pakistan is using the capture of insurgents as "trade bait" to extract more aid and military assistance from the United States.

However, Pakistani officials have rubbished the notion that they want to derail peace talks with the Taliban.

They insisted that they have no relationship with Afghan Taliban, with one Pakistani intelligence official terming such allegation as a 'slur'.

"If the Afghan government was talking to him (Baradar), why did they allow him to leave Afghanistan?" asked a Pakistani official.

"If he was so important to the peace process, he himself should have stayed there. If he was so important to the jirga, why did the United States provide the information that allowed us to catch him?" the official added. (ANI)

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