Afghan Taliban are strategic asset of Pakistan

USKABUL: The former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson has said that Pakistan still allows Afghan Taliban to use its soil as its ‘core strategic asset’ and is unlikely to abandon the terrorist groups as its Afghan policy is about “geo-strategic maneuvering” against India and following strategic depth in Afghanistan.

Olson has said that he was convinced that Pakistan would not shun the safe sanctuaries for Afghan Taliban, roaming freely there and using its territory against Afghanistan.

While delivering remarks on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Stimson Institute, a Washington DC-based thank-Tank he said, “And since the establishment view India as an existential threat, all measures against the eastern neighbor are acceptable.”

Olson added that the Obama-led US administration held direct conversations with Pakistan and even at times some of the US assistants launched specific actions which did not yield the required results.

“I think we have to take almost as a fact that Islamabad is going to continue to support the Taliban terrorist group and we have to make the best of it that we can,” he said.

He argued that Pakistan had been linked its pro-terror policy with India.

Talking about America’s role into the matter, he said any US policy towards Pakistan should take Islamabad’s pro-terror policy into account.

“Fundamentally, I think Pakistan sees the Afghan Taliban as a core strategic asset. I don’t think there is much that the United States can do to get them to change their core strategic perception. You can get them to change their views on things that are less important to them, but a core strategic issue, I think our leverage is pretty limited,” he added.

“Despite heavy US pressures and significant blandishments, Islamabad has never abandoned the Taliban-nurturing policy and use of its soil against Kabul,” he said.

Arguing that there is one way to overcome the pro-terror behavior of Pakistan is to get the peace talks on track, he said, “If you get a peace process going between Afghans that is genuine and has a degree of mutual support, I think that will undermine Pakistan’s ability to be a spoiler in this regard.”

“Pakistan, I do not believe quite genuinely can order all of the Taliban to make peace or frankly to do much of anything else. I think creating a diplomatic construct in which you rely upon that is ultimately probably going to fail because the Taliban do have a vote in all of this.”

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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