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Kabul cool to Pakistani overtures fearing revival of Islamabad-Washington nexus in the region

File photo of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

In the ever-shifting sands of the Af-Pak theatre, the Taliban has urged the US to not create obstacles in the way of recognition of the regime. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid thanked the US for its support for Afghanistan and advised it to hold dialogue with the current dispensation in Kabul.

Tolo News reported Muhajid as saying: “It is crucial that economic, commercial, and diplomatic support be given, and if support isn’t provided by any country, at least it should not harm Afghanistan, do not create obstacles, so Afghanistan can reach a certain place”.

With the Taliban completing two years in Kabul after the messy withdrawal of American and NATO forces, global powers are still arrayed against the Taliban over non-inclusion of minorities, oppression of women and the threat of terrorism emanating from Afghan soil. The US had frozen $9.5 billion of Afghan money which the Taliban wants unfrozen.

Even after leaving Afghanistan in August 2021, the US has been taking a keen interest in Afghan affairs with its former war on terror ally Pakistan, which faces a barrage of violence from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

General Michael Erik Kurilla, Commander United States CENTCOM, met with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir to gain a better understanding of the security situation and strengthen military-to-military relations. The meetings over July 23-25 took place at the Army House in Rawalpindi.

Similarly in the US outreach towards the region, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari about ” shared regional concerns, including Afghanistan”. The US has been reiterating that the Afghan Taliban must not allow the country to be used for terror attacks on neighbouring countries.

However, the Taliban has clearly said that there is no TTP in Afghanistan. It has also blamed Pakistan for its own failure in maintaining internal law and order.

Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan Asif Durrani, who was recently in Kabul followed by Tehran, met with Feridun H. Sinirlioglu, the UN Special Coordinator on Afghanistan to discuss recognition for Taliban, women’s rights, frozen accounts, terror groups as well as the increasing humanitarian crisis in the country.

Meanwhile, in its carrot and stick approach towards the wily Taliban, Islamabad seeks approval for the Taliban on one hand and on the other it also threatens to launch cross-border attacks on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan TTP sanctuaries inside Afghanistan, which Pakistan alleges operates from the Afghan soil and has killed hundreds of its Pakistani security personnel.

Unable to tame the Taliban and reduce the terror attacks on its soil, a confused Pakistan is leaning on US shoulders to help it rein in its erstwhile ally the TTP, which has been fast making inroads in the country.