NIGHTWATCH: Pakistan Speaks for Taliban, Leaves Karzai to Hang

04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism

Pakistan-Afghanistan: The Chinese news service Xinhua published a report on the outcome of talks between Afghan President Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Excerpts follow.

Pakistan said Tuesday that Afghan Taliban insurgents are unwilling to talk to Karzai government and its peace negotiators at least for now.

The statement came hours after Afghan President Hamid Karzai concluded a two-day visit to Pakistan that was focused on efforts to encourage Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said in Islamabad that Karzai had pressed for Islamabad’s help to bring Taliban leaders to the negotiating table.

Afghan government claims that leaders of Taliban are living in Pakistan and that Islamabad should use influence on them and facilitate direct talks between Taliban and Afghan High Peace Council.

Pakistan’s Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that Taliban are not willing to talk to Afghan government or Afghan High Peace Council.

However Pakistan will try its best to persuade them to hold dialogue so as to avert outbreak of civil war in post-conflict Afghanistan, Aziz told state radio.

Comment: The message behind the message is twofold. First is that the Taliban expect to return to power which explains their disinterest in peace negotiations with Karzai. Second, Pakistani national security interests require stability in post-Karzai Afghanistan. Thus, Pakistan will act to avoid another outbreak of civil war after US and NATO forces leave and the Taliban returns to power. That is the meaning of the last sentence quoted above. Pakistan will not act to help save Karzai.

The simple bluntness of the statements attributed by Sartaj Aziz confirms that senior Pakistani officials are in communication with the Afghan Taliban leaders in Quetta sufficiently to speak for them.