Taliban being used as hedge against India: US officer

Islamabad: The newly-appointed US Central Command (Centcom) Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie has said that Pakistan is using Taliban as a “hedge against India”.

“At this time, Pakistan does not appear to be using the full extent of its influence to encourage the Taliban to come to the table. We continue to see the Taliban being utilised as a hedge against India rather than as part of a stable, reconciled Afghanistan,” Dawn quoted Lieutenant General McKenzie as saying during a congressional meeting this week.

While noting that Pakistan is an important element in the long-term stability in Afghanistan, he, however, said that Islamabad’s policies on Kabul has often led to frustration between the US governments and militaries.
Lieutenant General McKenzie, who will replace Army General Joseph Votel in near future as Centcom chief, said that Pakistan will be his priority engagement.

Indicating his possible policies towards Islamabad, he said that US Centcom would continue to support efforts “towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Afghanistan which includes ensuring that Islamabad’s equities are acknowledged in any future agreement.” He further recommended strengthening military-to-military relations between the US and Pakistan.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump, in a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, asked Islamabad’s help with “faltering Afghan peace talks”.

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