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Afghan Ceasefire an Opportunity to Improve U.S.–Pakistan Relations

June 13, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

On June 7, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban from
June 12 to 20, which the U.S. said it would honor. The Taliban followed suit,
announcing a 3-day ceasefire coinciding with the Afghan
government’s.

Why it matters: The ceasefire’s outcome will
almost certainly impact the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace
process: As the Taliban’s first ceasefire since the Afghanistan War’s
inception in 2001, it indicates a strategic shift for how the group
might engage in talks with the Afghan government. But the ceasefire
also presents an opportunity for the U.S. and Pakistan to improve
their bilateral relationship, which has hit a nadir.

Since 2001, U.S. administrations have repeatedly asked Pakistan
to use its leverage against the Taliban to get them to the
negotiating table, even as its influence over the Taliban has waned
over the past decade. This time around, Pakistan, along with UNSC members, helped persuade the Taliban to reciprocate
Ghani’s temporary truce. That’s a positive sign for Pakistan, which
has always sought a prominent role in U.S.-Afghan
peace talks.

While the Trump administration refuses to hold direct
negotiations with the Taliban, U.S. officials are still asking
Pakistan to facilitate Afghan-Taliban peace talks, as part
of the administration’s support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned
peace process. Pakistan may not be the most reliable partner for
U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, but it is a key regional player.

The bottom line: If the U.S. hopes to end its
war in Afghanistan with a lasting political settlement, it needs to
improve its relationship with Pakistan — and hold direct
talks with the Taliban, which is part of Afghanistan’s political
fabric.

Sahar Khan is a
visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute’s Defense and
Foreign Policy Department. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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