Pakistan, U.S. NSAs discuss Afghan settlement

NSAs of both countries discuss the urgent need for reduction in violence in Afghanistan

July 30, 2021 09:20 pm | Updated 10:09 pm IST - Islamabad

On vigil: Afghan security personnel and militia fighting against Taliban in Enjil district of Herat province on Friday.

On vigil: Afghan security personnel and militia fighting against Taliban in Enjil district of Herat province on Friday.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf met with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan in Washington during which the two leaders discussed the urgent need for reduction in violence and a “negotiated” political settlement in Afghanistan.

The talks also covered other issues of mutual interest, the Dawn News reported on Friday.

This was the second meeting between the two leaders who first met in Geneva in March.

“Had a positive follow-up meeting with NSA Jake Sullivan today in Washington,” Mr. Yusuf tweeted in an early morning tweet.

“Took stock of progress made since our Geneva meeting and discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest,” he said, adding that the two sides “agreed to sustain the momentum in Pak-U.S. bilateral cooperation”.

Though Mr. Yusuf did not mention Afghanistan among the issues discussed in the meeting, Mr. Sullivan devoted half of his tweet to the Afghan issue.

“I met with Pakistan’s NSA today to consult on regional connectivity and security, and other areas of mutual cooperation. We discussed the urgent need for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan and a negotiated political settlement to the conflict,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Since the announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. forces by August 31, violence has been rising in Afghanistan and efforts to broker a peace settlement between the Afghan government and insurgent Taliban have slowed.

Blinken, who returned to Washington on Thursday evening after a visit to India and Kuwait, had said during the tour that Pakistan has “a vital role to play in using its influence with the Taliban to do whatever it can to make sure that the Taliban does not seek to take the country by force”.

Committed to withdrawing all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan by September 15, the Biden administration is now using its diplomatic influence to prevent a Taliban takeover and that’s where it sees a role for Pakistan, according to the Dawn report.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European countries and 2 North American countries While Pakistan also wants to prevent a military takeover in Kabul, Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview to an American channel this week has said that the US decision to set a timetable for withdrawing troops had narrowed Islamabad’s options as well.

Khan on PBS NewsHour, a US news programme, indicated that the Taliban see the withdrawal as their victory and are less receptive to reconciliation efforts than they would have been had the timetable not been announced.

Khan also criticised the US for trying to “look for a military solution in Afghanistan, when there never was one”.

The Pakistani delegation, which arrived in Washington three days ago, is also busy explaining its position in meetings with senior US officials, lawmakers, think-tank experts and media representatives. It is not clear if Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who is also in Washington for the talks, attended the meeting between the two NSAs, the report said.

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