Thursday, June 13, 2024
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US relying on ISI for ‘reconciliation talks’

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New York: After accusing Pakistan’s ISI of supporting the Haqqani terror network, the Obama administration is now relying on the spy agency to help it organise and begin “reconciliation talks” aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan, a media report said here.

“The revamped approach, which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called ‘Fight, Talk, Build’ combines continued American air and ground strikes against the Haqqani network and the Taliban with an insistence that Pakistan’s ISI get them to the negotiating table,” the ‘New York Times’ daily said.

The new strategy has emerged as an option in the wake of the increased attacks against Americans in Kabul, including the suicide attack on Saturday that killed as many as 10 Americans and in which the Haqqanis are suspected.

“It is the latest effort at brokering a deal with militants before the last of 33,000 American troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan by September, and comes as early hopes in the White House about having the outlines of a deal in time for a multinational conference December 5 in Bonn, Germany, have been all but abandoned,” the report said.

However, a few elements of the ISI “see little advantage” in forcing those negotiations, as they see insurgents as their best bet for maintaining influence in Afghanistan once the US reduces its presence there.

The new strategy has been met with deep skepticism by some in the Obama administration, partly because the Pakistani government has developed its own strategy at odds with Clinton’s. A senior American official summarised the Pakistani position as ‘Cease-fire, Talk, Wait for the Americans to Leave’.

“In short, the US is in the position of having to rely heavily on the ISI to help broker a deal with the same group of militants that leaders in Washington say the spy agency is financing and supporting,” the NYT report added.

It quoted former top Obama White House aide on Pakistan and Afghanistan Shamila Chaudhary as saying that Pakistanis see the “contradictions in the American approach.

The big question for the administration is, What can the Pakistanis actually deliver? Pakistan is holding its cards very closely.”

The US intelligence officials have also deepened an investigation into the role, if any, the Haqqani network played in the bombing in Kabul on Saturday.

Several current and former American officials say the US has tried this “bomb-them-to-the-bargaining-table” approach before but it resulted in little so far with the Afghan Taliban. (PTI)

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