US reaches out to Pak Army chief for stability in Afghanistan

The United States on Thursday launched a new peace initiative for Afghanistan by reaching out to the chief of Pakistan Army General Qamar Bajwa, Dawn reported

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched a new peace initiative for Afghanistan on Thursday

Later, he announced that American and Nato troops in Afghanistan will also observe a temporary ceasefire that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has offered to the Taliban.

A statement released by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the top US diplomat telephoned the army chief and discussed with him the “need for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and the importance of targeting all militant and terrorist groups in South Asia without distinction.”

They also talked about “ways to advance US-Pakistan bilateral relations”, Ms Nauert added.

All three subjects – relations with Pakistan, Afghan reconciliation and fighting terrorists – are Washington’s main concern in the South Asian region.

Diplomatic observers in Washington say that like previous US governments, the Trump administration also believes that the Pakistan Army has a key role in restoring peace to Afghanistan and that’s why Mr Pompeo called Gen Bajwa, instead of the country’s political leadership.

The observers say that there must be “an urgent reason” for making this unusual call, as Americans prefer to use the Pentagon channel to communicate with a general.

They point out that even strained relations with Pakistan did not prevent the Pentagon from maintaining its contacts with Rawalpindi, as top US generals often speak with their counterparts in the Pakistani military establishment.


Earlier this month, Secretary Pompeo told a congressional hearing in Washington that the US was now encouraging direct talks between Taliban and Afghan government officials as the first step towards ending the conflict, which has been simmering for the past 17 years.





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