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Editorial: The deception game

Pakistani media reported that Taliban’s delegation during visit to Islamabad hinted to resume the stalled peace talks if key Taliban prisoners held in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were released including Mullah Bradar Akhund. The three-member delegation that flew from Doha to Islamabad held meetings with Pakistani officials on status of Afghan refugees and situation in areas along the de facto border, Durand Line. Details about what the delegation had discussed, apart from these issues, is not available. The details had been labeled ‘sensitive’ by the Taliban and Pakistani authorities. However, it points to beginning of another game of deception. The victim will be Afghan government if wise decisions and steps were not taken.

It is evident from the statements of Pashtun nationalist leaders, Senator Usman Kakar and Afrasiab Khattak. Kakar, who is a senior leader of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, said that Islamabad would continue its interference in Afghanistan. According to him, Pakistan has no intention to help the stalled Afghan-owned peace drive. His statement is worth buying because his party is in coalition with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Afrasiab Khattak is of the same opinion. He said that Pakistani authorities had not translated their promises into actions. Khattak pointed to the pledges of Pakistan regarding crackdown against all those Afghan militants who were not ready to renounce violence.

It is important to know what the militant group wants to achieve through such statement. The answer is obvious—misleading the Afghan government and helping Pakistan to avoid pressure of international community. Once Kabul was deceived, it will be easy for the Taliban to buy time and continue struggle for capturing more lands. Peace talks will slow down the pace of military operations in Afghanistan. It will benefit the Taliban. Moreover, it will also help Islamabad to avoid the crippling pressure of international community. The United States is key player in this great game which can steer Pakistan’s Afghan policy in right direction.

In addition to that, the Taliban also wants to fill the vacuum left by Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA); though, to some extent. Talks between HIA and Afghan government are seen as calamitous by the Taliban insurgents. If HIA and the government reconcile, it will be a major setback for the Taliban, reducing their power. To get a better understanding of this evil motive of the insurgent group one has to recall the past. The previous government had released scores of Taliban fighters and leaders, hoping it will help the peace process. However, the militant group had not brought halt to its attacks against the government. The released prisoners returned to the battlefield to fight Afghans security forces. They inflicted heavy damages.

It was a mistake which should not be repeated by the current government. The president shall stick to its stance against the Taliban. There shall be no concession for the Taliban. Pace of the military operations should be accelerated. Similarly, the issue of Pakistan’s support to the Taliban shall be brought to the UN Security Council. Another chance to the Taliban will be of no help.

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