But Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the Prime Minister on foreign affairs, on Wednesday said Islamabad has considerable influence over the Taliban because its leaders live in the country.
“They get some medical facilities. Their families are here,” he said. “We can use those levers to pressurise them to say, ‘Come to the table’. But we can’t negotiate on behalf of the Afghan government because we cannot offer them what the Afghan government can.”
Aziz made the comments at Washington’s Council on Foreign Relations think tank on March 1. He added that Islamabad pressured Taliban leaders to participate in the first-ever direct talks with the Afghan government on July 7, 2015.
“We have threatened them that ‘If you don’t come forward and talk, we will at least expel you’,” he said of the tough message sent to Taliban leaders, most of whom are believed to be operating out of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province. “(We told the Taliban leaders that) we have hosted (them) enough for 35 years, and we can’t do it anymore because the whole world is blaming us,” he said.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, the US, and China last week agreed on a road map to end the Afghan war through negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban.