Hold talks with the Taliban, says Pakistani daily


Islamabad : The solution to the current US-Pakistan stalemate is to bring the Taliban and “therefore the Haqqanis” to the table for talks, said a Pakistani daily Wednesday.

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The ties between Washington and Islamabad have deteriorated over an accusation that Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, supported the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network.

The News International editorially said that Pakistan needs the US, and vice-versa, is not in question. “What is uncertain is how to mend the broken relationship.”

“If there is a solution to the stalemate, it is at the diplomatic level: bring the Taliban and therefore the Haqqanis to the table for talks. This has been proposed and back channels are open and what is needed now is more honesty in pursuing what is the only right option,” it said.

“Publicly a war of words is on right now, but one hopes a backstage deal will be done to de-escalate the rhetoric. In this vein, the Pakistanis are in talks with Saudi Arabia and the Chinese to seek advice but also to find allies to make its case for de-escalation,” the editorial added.

US military commanders have accused ISI of supporting the Haqqani Network for carrying out two attacks on the US embassy in Kabul and the US military base in Afghanistan’s Wadak province this month.

The chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen Sep 22 called the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of ISI, a charge denied by Pakistan.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta threatened to take unilateral action against the Haqqani network inside Pakistan if the authorities there failed to do so.

The editorial went on to say that “inadequate investment in the Pakistani people by both Pakistan and the US has hampered and will continue to hamper security-related goals”.

“What is needed, then, is a partnership that strategically addresses the concerns of hundreds of millions of Pakistanis, and which will for that reason be much better geared to benefit the Pakistani people and state as well as long-term security goals,” it added.