Afghan peace talks will fail without Pak's support, threaten security officials

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Islamabad, Oct 25 (ANI): Frustrated over Pakistan not having been included in the ongoing Afghan reconciliation talks with the Taliban to end the war now in its tenth year, Pakistani security officials have warned that a sustainable peace agreement will not be possible without their support.

"We cannot be insignificant in this war. If somebody is trying to keep us out and is striving for sustainable peace, good luck to them," The Washington Post quoted a high-ranking Pakistani security official, as saying on the condition of anonymity.

He cautioned that the United States must be careful that its "desperate push to produce results . . . does not become strategically unacceptable to our side."

Another senior Pakistani intelligence official said, "The American government is hard-pressed to show the American public that they have achieved something" ahead of the midterm congressional elections next week and President Barack Obama's war review in December. "All this is primarily about that."

Pakistani officials also criticized Afghan President Hamid Karzai's appointment of a High Peace Council, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani, who is an ethnic Tajik from northern Afghanistan.

The officials pointed out that the council did not include enough Pashtuns from the south, where the Taliban has its roots. Several Pakistan security officials stressed that Karzai, who himself is a Pashtun, must ensure equitable representation for the Pashtuns in all aspects of government and the military before any peace talks can become serious, the paper said.

Meanwhile, US diplomats maintained that they were not sidelining Pakistan, but stressed at the same time that the Afghan government must lead the peace process without interference, it added.

"NATO helps set the conditions that can support an Afghan-led reconciliation process," said Alberto Rodriguez, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

"The U.S. believes that Pakistan's role is to work in concert with the international community and support the Afghan government as it charts a course for the future," he added.

Pakistan is thought to have significant leverage over key insurgent factions, as it heavily supported the Taliban during the group's five years in power in Afghanistan before the 2001 US-led invasion, and has been giving insurgent leaders shelter in Pakistan, the paper said.

Elements of Pakistan's military and intelligence services have allegedly maintained assistance to the Taliban, envisioning the group as a tool for exerting influence after US and other foreign forces have left Afghanistan, it added. (ANI)

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