US, Pakistan plan joint effort to boost Taliban talks
23 September, 2012
WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan are planning a joint effort to draw the Taliban toward peace talks in Afghanistan, an initiative that could help reconcile some militants and give Pakistan a say in the political future of its neighbour, The Washington Post reported.
A joint commission, 'action group', would help vet candidates for political rehabilitation, with a goal of helping Afghanistan frame a workable peace deal after US and foreign forces leave the country.
Officials familiar with the previously undisclosed plan described it on condition of anonymity because it is not final and because some aspects of US outreach to the Taliban are classified.
The planned joint vetting was among the main focuses of a nearly five-hour meeting last week between three senior US officials and President Asif Zardari, officials of both governments said.
"Whatever you call it, the roadmap... will have many aspects to determine who is reconcilable and who is not, how to then move once you determine they are reconcilable, [and] what should be on the table and what should not be on the table," a senior Pakistani official said. "It would look at who is reconcilable and who is not," a US official said, with Pakistan using its historical intelligence ties to Taliban to advice the US and Afghanistan.
The US-Pakistan vetting operation would be part of larger cooperation taking place among Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States despite crosscutting tensions among all three nations.
The cooperation comes amid street protests in Pakistan sparked by the anti-Islam film, and after a two-year roller coaster in US-Pakistani relations that left both countries wary. Economic, political and military cooperation between the two countries has been scaled back.
Pakistan's participation in the Taliban effort is a recognition that some political deal to end the Taliban's 11-year insurgency is likely, or at least possible, after the bulk of foreign forces in the country in 2014, officials said.