Pak 'cozying up to everyone' to retain influence in Afghanistan post US troop pullout: Report

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 17, 2013 06:10 hrs

As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan for the second time, Pakistan is establishing direct and more active contacts with members of the former Northern Alliance, a report has said.

Reports of Islamabad attempting to control proxies in Afghanistan are nothing new.

According to the Dawn, for decades Pakistan has been involved in power politics next door, from supporting the mujahideen against the Soviets and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Taliban against the Northern Alliance to allowing Mullah Omar's presence in Pakistan.

But conversations with senior Pakistani security officials and security and foreign policy analysts indicated that as the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan draws closer, direct and more active contact has been established with the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, also with the former Northern Alliance, the paper said.

The paper pointed out that these contacts are a last-minute bid to prevent even more instability this side of the border and seem designed to indicate to the Taliban and the US that Pakistan supports an intra-Afghan rather than a fundamentalist Islamist government in Kabul.

The conversations revealed that the Pakistani military now prefers a coalition government in Kabul to Taliban rule, making communication with multiple groups essential preparation for the uncertain post-2014 political scenario, the paper said.

A Taliban administration is considered a risky option carrying the potential for both civil war in Afghanistan and new safe havens there for Pakistani militants, and the best-case scenario is seen as being a loose federation of autonomous regions with a coalition set-up at the center, the paper added.

The paper pointed out that direct contact with multiple Afghan groups has not openly been admitted to despite increased public activity on the reconciliation front.

These activities include Pakistan's release of Taliban prisoners and the Chequers summit last week where the Pakistani and Afghan presidents and military and intelligence chiefs indicated a six-month timeframe for a "peace settlement", but provided no further details about a desired political outcome, the paper added. (ANI)

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