US links Pak's role in Afghan peace efforts to ridding terror havens in country

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Washington, Oct 21 (ANI): Pakistan has an 'appropriate' role to play in resolving the situation in Afghanistan, but that role compulsorily involves taking "effective action" against the extremist threat along its border region, US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley has stated.

"We have assured Pakistan that it has an appropriate role to play in resolving the situation in Afghanistan," the Dawn quoted Crowley, as saying at a briefing at the State Department.

But, he added that the Afghan government had "also made clear that solving its challenge within Afghanistan involves effective action on the Pakistan side of the border."

The link between the two was "an essential element" of the US strategy for the region, noted Crowley, and added, "We need to have aggressive action both in Afghanistan and Pakistan if we're going to defeat this extremist threat."

The State Department official said that as the talks between the Afghan and Taliban representatives moved forward, "we will discuss within the strategic dialogue this week ways in which Pakistan can be a part of this broader effort."

He also confirmed that Pakistani officials had already met Afghan officials to discuss this very subject.

Responding to a query on the US media reports claiming that the ISI was allegedly trying to subvert the peace talks to ensure that Pakistan also had a role in the discussions, Crowley said, "We do not want to see efforts by any entity to prevent political reconciliation. This is a fundamental part of our strategy and Pakistan does have a legitimate role to play in supporting this process."

He also noted that while the broader process of reconciliation was an Afghan-led effort, "we do see a role for Pakistan to be involved."

When asked to elaborate on Pakistan's role in Afghan reconciliation efforts, he said, "Well, not the least of which is because we believe that there are elements involved in insurgency that exist in the areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan."

"And we understand that there are historical interests here. There are relationships here. That's why we have talked to Pakistan about playing a constructive role in supporting an Afghan-led reconciliation process," he added.

When asked whether Pakistan should have a seat at the table in that effort, Crowley replied, "The nature of that role I think is up to discussions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We recognise that countries have an interest in the future of the region and we see this as part of a regional strategy."

"Pakistan has an interest in a stable Afghanistan. Other countries do as well. And to the extent that Pakistan can play a role in supporting an Afghan-led process, that is something that we have discussed with Pakistan, but more importantly that's something that Pakistan has discussed with Afghanistan," he added.

Crowley, however, said that he was not in a position to answer the question whether the ISI was actually trying to undermine the Kabul talks, "but I think we are talking to Pakistan. We'll discuss this as a dimension of our strategic dialogue this week." (ANI)

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