ISLAMABAD: A senior official of the US State Department, Ambassador Alice Wells, reached Islamabad from Kabul on Monday to again ask Pakistani authorities for pressurising the Taliban to join the peace process in Afghanistan.
Ambassador Wells, deputy assistant secretary of state at the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, opened her trip with a meeting with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office. She is expected to meet other civil and military officials on Tuesday.
During her stay in Kabul, she had said that the Taliban’s refusal to join the political process was “unacceptable”. She also accused the “Taliban ….who are not residing in Afghanistan” of being obstacle to the peace talks. She was apparently referring to Pakistan-based Taliban against whom the US has long asked for action.
Alice Wells set to hold talks with military, civil officials today
Last Saturday Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had asked his forces to resume counterterrorism operations after nearly a two-week-long ceasefire for Eid. Mr Ghani had initially unilaterally announced the ceasefire and later extended the pause in hostilities after the success of his Eid initiative.
The Taliban too observed an unprecedented three-day ceasefire on Eid, but resumed fighting after its expiry.
Afghanistan has also been seeking Pakistan’s help for resumption of ceasefire and bringing Taliban to peace talks.
A high-level Afghan security delegation visited Islamabad immediately after Eid for discussing bilateral security and intelligence cooperation and exploring the prospects for Pakistani support for peace efforts in Afghanistan.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have recently witnessed improvement and the two countries have committed to a new bilateral ties framework.
President Ghani while speaking in Kabul last weekend said: “The issue of Taliban should be solved in our relations with Pakistan. Some things have been done in this respect and some things are still needed to be done. … Now, serious actions are required”.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018