Pakistan in a fix over Afghan strategy

Pakistan is in a fix over its Afghan strategy after recent setbacks that have compelled critics and retired diplomats to call for a review of its policy towards the Afghan Taliban, media reports said.

Background discussions with the people dealing with the matter told The Express Tribune that despite apparent friction in ties with Kabul, Pakistan has no option but to seek engagement with the Afghan Taliban regime.

The incidents of the last few weeks have put Pakistan’s relationship with the Afghan Taliban in jeopardy, The Express Tribune reported.

Islamabad was already upset over Kabul’s failure to tackle the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the border clashes in Chaman further deepened the crisis.

At least 19 Pakistani civilians lost their lives and several others were injured in two separate incidents at Chaman-Spin Boldak border when the Afghan border security forces resorted to unprovoked firing, The Express Tribune reported.

After the first incident in which 18 Pakistani civilians were killed, Pakistan reacted cautiously and did not even bother to summon the Afghan envoy.

The Foreign Office merely issued a statement condemning the incident while urging the need for resolving the matter through dialogue. The cautious response from Pakistan raised many eyebrows as many were expecting a tough reaction. However, sources said the reason behind Pakistan’s guarded response was to avoid further escalation, the report said.

Four days later, the Afghan security forces yet again resorted to firing and this time Pakistan had to call in the Afghan envoy in Islamabad to record a strong protest.

But despite Pakistan’s strong reaction there have been behind the scene efforts to de-escalate the situation.

“We are in a fix. We have no option but to seek engagement with the Afghan Taliban,” a source said.

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