Pakistan could end war against Taliban: Afghan army chief

Pakistan could end war against Taliban: Afghan army chief

KABUL - Agence France-Presse
Pakistan could end war against Taliban: Afghan army chief

Taliban militants have stepped up attacks in summer as NATO prepares to leave Afghanistan. An Afghan general said Pakistan could end the nearly 12-year Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan ‘in weeks’ if it were serious about peace. AFP hoto

Pakistan could end the Afghan war “in weeks” if it truly wanted peace, Afghanistan’s army chief has said, adding that Islamabad is complicit in U.S. drone strikes despite its denunciations of Washington’s anti-militant campaign. However, Pakistan yesterday “categorically rejected” the Afghan army chief’s remarks.

In a BBC interview broadcast yesterday, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi laid bare the mistrust between Kabul and Islamabad as U.S.-led troops wind down more than a decade of war against Taliban and other insurgents. By closing down madrasah schools that serve as incubators of Islamist extremism, Pakistan had “unleashed” the Taliban on Afghanistan today, the chief of staff of the Afghan National Army said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry rejected Karimi’s words. “The allegations that Pakistan ‘controls’ the Taliban and has ‘unleashed’ them on Afghanistan have no basis. We reject them categorically,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Yes, it will be done in weeks,” Karimi said when asked if Pakistan could end the Taliban’s fight against the Kabul government if it wanted. “The Taliban are under their control,” he said, adding that Pakistan could do far more to promote a nascent peace process.

“Now Pakistan is suffering internally from terrorists as much as I do. We can [work] together to fight this menace provided that [everyone is] sincere in what they’re doing,” Karimi said in the interview, which was recorded in Kabul on June 29.

Pakistan was the prime foreign backer of the Taliban’s 1996-2001 government and some of the fundamentalist movement’s top leaders are believed to live in the Pakistani city of Quetta. In the past decade, Pakistan has seen the emergence of its own Taliban movement that has claimed thousands of lives in a campaign of terror.

Peace deal a priority

The search for a peace deal in Afghanistan is now an urgent priority as 100,000 U.S.-led NATO combat troops prepare to withdraw next year and Afghan forces take on the fight against insurgents. After weekend talks with Britain’s visiting leader, David Cameron, new Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke of his government’s “firm resolve to promote the shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long decried what he sees as Pakistani double-dealing designed to bring about a friendly regime in Kabul, and Karimi said this bad faith extended to Sharif’s objections to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s northwest. “The U.S. has not started drone attacks on their own,” the Afghan army chief said, arguing that Islamabad had “given the lists” of militants it wants taken out.

“The drones are used against those Taliban who are Pakistani Taliban. The drones are never used against Haqqani or Afghan Taliban,” he said, in reference to the Afghan insurgent groups. “That’s why that’s one of the issues when I’m saying that the peace to Afghanistan can come if we and Pakistan both desire to have peace,” Karimi said.