`Pakistan ready to broker US-Taliban talks`

Pakistan cannot become a guarantor of the negotiating process, a media report said.

Islamabad: Pakistan has told the US that it is ready to facilitate its talks with the Taliban, but cannot become a guarantor of the negotiating process, a media report said on Sunday.

"Pakistan must not be blamed in case of failure of attempts (by US) for reconciliation with the Taliban as it does not spoon-feed them," Dawn quoted a senior security official as saying.

"Contact with the Haqqani group is there, but they are not in our pocket," was the message put across the US during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s visit to the country this week.

The official said both the sides felt that reconciliation was the way forward, but adding that Islamabad made it clear to Washington that the "negotiating process must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led".

The Taliban must not be pressed to abandon Al Qaeda, lay down arms and declare respect for the Afghan constitution before the talks, the US was advised. "We know the Afghan culture, they will never lay down their arms," he said.
Pakistan had also spelt out its reservations to the US that it must not be forced into a strategy that the US itself is not going to follow on the other side of the border. The unambiguous message given to Washington was that an action against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan was not advisable as Pakistan could not afford to open a new front at this stage, the report stated.


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