Prior to a visit to Islamabad, a senior US official called on Pakistan to act against all extremist groups. Pakistan has sought reconciliation with militants both at home and in Afghanistan. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will meet with Pakistani officials on October 7-8. which has been accused by the US of playing a double game in Afghanistan where the Taliban swept back to power last month.
According to Sherman, ‘we are seeking a strong partnership with Pakistan in counterterrorism and expect that we can take action against all militant and terrorist groups without discrimination. Both our nations have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks and we look forward to working together to eliminate all regional and global terrorist threats,’ she said from Switzerland, the first stop of a trip that will also take her to India and Uzbekistan.
Though Pakistan has been praised for its efforts against militants and it has also been criticized for not doing more to curb Islamist radicals that target neighboring India. In an interview aired Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, a critic of US military campaigns, said his government has begun talks with the Pakistani Taliban about laying down their arms.
According to TRT World television, some of the Pakistani Taliban groups have expressed interest in talking to Turkey’s government about achieving peace and reconciliation. Discussions are taking place in Afghanistan with sections of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has waged years of deadly attacks. ‘I repeat, I do not believe in military solutions,’ Khan said. The Taliban have been urged to engage with the world and receive economic support, though Khan has desisted on recognizing them, a step the United States opposes. Sherman commended Pakistan’s call for a government that includes all Afghans.
As a crucial part of helping to achieve this, Pakistan is expected to play an important role. Pakistan, a Cold War ally of the United States, was one of only three nations to recognize the Taliban’s hardline 1996-2001 regime. However, the country immediately supported the war to oust the regime following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Officials say segments of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service backed the Taliban, partly because of the former Western-backed Afghan government’s close ties with India.