US urges Islamabad to stop Taliban from using Pakistan soil

The United States has called on Pakistan to take form action against Taliban leaders who allegedly used Islamabad territory for cross-border attacks, besides continuing to encourage them to resume peace talks with Kabul.

According to Dawn, adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told reporters in Islamabad earlier this week that Pakistan could not accept the Afghan demand to abandon peace efforts and take military action against the Taliban leaders.

Instead, Aziz offered to press on for resuming reconciliation talks as soon as possible.

As a reminder, a US State Department official told Islamabad that in December last yearAfghanistan and Pakistan signed a joint statement, agreeing, “not to allow use of their respective soil against each other”.

He added that Afghanistan and Pakistan had also agreed to “sternly handle any elements crossing over and getting involved in violence on either side, through active intelligence sharing and intelligence-based operations”.

Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani urged Pakistan to expel Taliban insurgents or arrest and hand them over to Kabul for trial for killing innocent Afghans.

Ghani also said that he would no longer seek Pakistan’s help in arranging reconciliation talks with the Taliban.

But Aziz said on Tuesday that the Afghan outrage at Pakistan was “an expression of frustration” at the delay in reconciliation talks.

However, the State Department official reminded Aziz that Pakistan had made a commitment to Afghanistan and other partners to ensure that militants won’t use its territory.

“This is the commitment that Pakistan has made to its partners, and we expect it to take steps necessary to promote dialogue, reduce violence in Afghanistan, and encourage the Taliban to engage in meaningful negotiations,” the official said.

When asked what was the US policy regarding Pakistan’s support for the Haqqani Network and other Afghan Taliban groups allegedly operating from the Pakistani soil, the official said: “We have consistently expressed our concerns at the highest levels of the government of Pakistan about their continued tolerance for Afghan Taliban groups, such as the Haqqani Network operating from Pakistani soil. We did so again following the devastating suicide attack on April 19 in Kabul.

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