Pak Offers to Meddle with Taliban to Contain India: NYT

Pakistan has offered to meddle with Taliban factions in exchange for an amicable Afghanistan and ways to contain rising Indian presence there, reported the New York Times citing Pakistani and US officials.

Report said that Pakistan told the US that it wanted a central role in resolving the Afghan war and offered to meddle with Taliban factions who used its territory and had long served as its allies, reported IANS.

The report noted that the Pakistani offer, which aims to preserve Islamabad’s influence in Afghanistan after US troops leave, could help as well as hurt American interests as Washington debates reconciling with the Taliban.

“Pakistan’s army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, made clear Pakistan’s willingness to mediate at a meeting late last month at NATO headquarters with top American military officials,” the Times said citing a senior American military official familiar with the meeting.

“The Pakistani offer makes clear that any stable solution to the war will have to take into account Afghanistan’s neighbours, in a region where Pakistan, India, China, Iran and others all jostle for power,” it said.

On offer is Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban network of Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani, whose forces, according to US commanders, are the most deadly fighting American and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.

“In return for trying to rein in the Haqqanis, Pakistan will be looking for a friendly Afghanistan and for ways to stem the growing Indian presence there,” the Times said citing Pakistani and American officials.

The US is mounting pressure on General Kayani to initiate an offensive against the Haqqanis’ base in North Waziristan, said report.

However, General Kayani, who pleased America with an operation against the Pakistan Taliban in South Waziristan last autumn, is not ready to do so, said report.

“There is no need at this point to start a steamroller operation in North Waziristan,” he told reporters last week, according to the Times.

Last month he took General Stanley McChrystal, commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, on a helicopter tour over the mountains of the Swat Valley, where Pakistani paratroopers landed last summer to flush out Taliban insurgents.

“The message was that the Pakistani Army still regarded India as its primary enemy and was stretched too thin to open a new front,” the Times said.

“The reluctance to take on the Haqqanis preserves them as both a prize to be delivered at the negotiating table and a potential asset for Pakistan in postwar Afghanistan,” the US daily said citing Syed Rifaat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University who is close to the Pakistani Army.

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