Afghanistan looks to Pakistan for help with Taliban
As Pakistan deals with the fallout from Tuesday's assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani met Wednesday with Pakistan's military chief to help nudge the Taliban to the negotiating table.
A high-level peace delegation to Islamabad by a former president of Afghanistan has been overshadowed by Pakistani political turmoil, including the assassination Tuesday of a top governor and a major breakup in the ruling coalition.Skip to next paragraph
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But former President Burhanuddin Rabbani still met Wednesday with Pakistan’s military chief, Ashfaq Kayani, and will meet with the country’s president and prime minister in the next three days, highlighting the official visit’s importance to the two countries.
Mr. Rabbani’s mission is to get Pakistan’s help in nudging the Taliban to the negotiating table. That involves convincing Islamabad that those Afghans who would sit across the table from the Taliban – power brokers like Rabbani who have historical ties to India – are friendly to Pakistan.
“[The delegation] will be encouraging all counterparts in Pakistan to … ask what help they can give to try to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table,” says Michael Semple, an expert on the negotiations who is currently in Islamabad. “I think it’s an indication that both Kabul and Washington acknowledge that the involvement of Pakistan is key.”
Over the past year, the Afghan government has moved aggressively to mend fences with Pakistan. Appointed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to head the country’s High Peace Council, Rabbani has continued the charm offensive on this visit.
“Rabbani, expressing strong sentiments of friendship and brotherhood toward Pakistan, stated that Afghanistan and Pakistan were brothers and neighbours,” read a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. “He said Pakistan was the most important country for Afghanistan.”