India should talk to Taliban if Delhi feels it will help peace push: Pakistan

Published May 17, 2020
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Asad Khan says "it is not for us to sit in judgement on what they should do or they shouldn’t do". — USIP screengrab/File
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Asad Khan says "it is not for us to sit in judgement on what they should do or they shouldn’t do". — USIP screengrab/File

WASHINGTON: India should speak to Taliban militants if it feels that it will help the peace process, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington said on Saturday.

In an interview with The Hindu, an Indian newspaper, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said it would be “appropriate” for an India-Taliban engagement.

“It is for India to respond to that suggestion,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Asad Khan told Reuters.

Asked if he was open to an Indian dialogue with the Taliban, Mr Khan said: “If India feels that their engagement is going to help the peace process, then we would defer to their judgement. But it’s not for us to sit in judgement on what they should do or they shouldn’t do.”

US sees Taliban-India parleys as ‘appropriate’

He stopped short of saying he was open to an Indian engagement with the Taliban or whether Islamabad favored such a move.

The envoy said that he would hopefully be speaking to Mr Khalilzad soon and did not go by Indian media accounts, which he said in many cases are “fanciful” and give their own interpretations.

Two attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday have complicated the US push for peace. One attack, on a Kabul hospital’s maternity ward, killed 24 people, including two babies. Another, at a funeral in eastern Afghanistan, killed 32.

The United States has blamed the militant Islamic State for the attacks.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered the military on Tuesday to switch to “offensive mode” against the Taliban following the attacks.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2020

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