US seeks Pakistan role in Afghanistan, despite tension

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Despite growing tensions in bilateral ties, United States still wants Pakistan to continue playing its role in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.

On March 31, both Pakistan and the United States participated in yet another meeting of the so-called Extended Troika for Afghanistan, which also includes Russia and China.

All four countries sent their special envoys for Afghanistan to the ancient Chinese city of Tunxi which also hosted the foreign ministers of China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for another meeting.

After the troika meeting, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, noted that “China, the US, Russia and Pakistan are all countries with significant influence on the Afghan issue,” a key point that also echoed at a US State Department’s latest news briefing.

“These are countries that have a good degree of leverage with the Taliban, and the ‘Extended Troika’ has, in the past, been a constructive forum, and it is critical that the international community remain united in its approach to Afghanistan,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

“It is especially critical with countries that have a good deal of leverage with the Taliban. The United States would be included in that, Russia would be included in that, the People’s Republic of China would be included in that, and Pakistan would be included in that.”

The US official said that it was “incumbent on all of these countries to use that leverage to push the Taliban in the right direction.”

Mr Price said that US interests in Afghanistan “are aligned with the members of the troika,” that includes Pakistan, which has the longest border with Afghanistan and policy makers in Washington believe that Islamabad still has enough leverage on the Taliban to influence their policymaking.

Mr Price also explained how the members of this Extended Troika should use their influence, highlighting two key issues that Washington has been pushing for since August last year when the Taliban captured Kabul: “Seeing girls return to secondary schools and encouraging inclusive governance.”

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