With efforts at a new round of Taliban peace talks dividing Afghanistan and Pakistan yet again, Afghan Army Chief Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi has issued a statement blaming the entire 13+ year war on Pakistan, insisting they could end the whole war in a matter of weeks whenever they want to.
“The Taliban are under Pakistan’s control,” Karimi insisted, noting that the Taliban’s leadership is mostly hiding out in Pakistan’s border territory. Pakistan’s de facto control of the Taliban is a long-standing assumption in Afghan government circles.
But is it true? Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency clearly has long-standing ties to aspects of the Taliban leadership, but denies any real operational control. Pakistan’s civilian government denies the whole thing outright, but since the ISI is notoriously secretive they may not know the scope of it to begin with.
The oversimplification of the situation swings both ways, with Pakistan’s perception of the Afghan government almost entirely colored by the assumption that its close ties with India amount to virtual Indian government dominance of the Afghan government, and that this is being done with an eye toward “surrounding” Pakistan on multiple fronts.
Both the Afghan and Pakistani governments would benefit from an end to the ongoing Afghan War, but Pakistan envisions a settlement that involves power-sharing with the Taliban, something which as a practical matter is a virtual certainty but which the Afghan government is loathe to admit.
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