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Historically Pakistan Has Not Played Positive Role In Afghanistan, But Situation Is Improved Now: Zalmay Khalilzad

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The United States (US) Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday said that Pakistan has historically ‘not played a positive’ role in Afghanistan, but now the response is more positive than it was before.

Khalilzad said this during an event hosted by United States Institute of Peace where he was asked several questions by moderator Stephen Hedley. On the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan, Khalilzad said that “this is a sensitive question.  I believe Pakistan historically has not played a positive role with regard to the peace process, but I believe that it’s a positive change in recent times.”

He continued that the US ‘would always like’ Pakistan, and other countries, to play a positive role in Afghanistan, “but we appreciate what they have done so far”.

The US rep said that Pakistan was a significant stakeholder and talked about the need for improved relations between Pakistan and the US for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is an important country with which we want to have better relations It will be a beneficiary of peace process but has not been compensated for its role,” Zalmay said, adding that the best compensation for Pakistan was better relations with the US.

Khalilzad said that Pakistan has tried to facilitate talks between the Taliban and the US government and the country also favor’s intra-Afghan dialogue, which he termed as ‘positive’.

US Won’t Withdraw Unless Peace Is Established In Afghanistan

On question regarding US withdrawal from Afghanistan with or without peace, Zalmay said that “we have started the peace process which may include the withdrawal process and not the vice versa”.

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He said his overall goal was to not seek a withdrawal agreement but a peace agreement, and withdrawal was only possible when peace agreement has been reached. “A peace agreement can allow withdrawal, but it is not just a withdrawal agreement that we are seeking,” he said.

To achieve the peace agreement, Zalmay said that the US were pondering over quite a few issues. Two of these issues were counter terrorism and the US force withdrawal.

Taliban Say They Made Mistakes In Treatment Of Women

Zalmay was also asked about the treatment and situation of women in Afghanistan and under Taliban in particular. On this matter, he said that the situation was not ideal, but there have been improvements over the past few years.

“Afghanistan still has a long way to go.  Let’s not celebrate as if we’ve achieved, Afghanistan women have achieved where they are.”

He also said that Taliban have admitted to have made mistakes in many areas, especially in how they treated women. “The Taliban have a different view on this issue.  They say they made a mistake in how they dealt with women the last time.”

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