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August 14, 2019

IHK situation may complicate US-Taliban talks: envoy

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August 14, 2019

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States has raised the possibility that Islamabad might redeploy troops from the Afghanistan border to the Kashmir frontier, a shift that could complicate American peace talks with the Taliban, according to the New York Times.

In an interview to The New York Times editorial board, Asad Majeed Khan,emphasized that the Kashmir and Afghanistan issues were separate and that he was not attempting to link them. On the contrary, he said, Pakistan hoped the American talks with the Taliban would succeed and that his country was actively supporting them. “We are doing all that we can and will continue,” Mr Khan said.

The newspaper quoted the ambassador as saying that India's crackdown on the disputed region of Kashmir “could not have come at a worse time for us,” because the Pakistanis have sought to strengthen military control along the western border with Afghanistan, an area long infiltrated by Taliban militants, as part of the effort to help end the Afghanistan conflict by denying the group a safe haven.

“We have our hands full” on the western border, the ambassador told the newspaper, adding, “If the situation escalates on the eastern border, we will have to undertake redeployments.” The newspaper further said quoting the ambassador that Islamabad was "not thinking about anything but what is happening on our eastern border.”

The ambassador further warned that there has been little communication between the two countries over the past week, and that the crisis “unfortunately, I suspect, is going to get worse.”

According to the newspaper, the ambassador declined to specify what such a worsening would look like. “We are two big countries, with very large militaries, with nuclear capability and a history of conflict, so I would not like to burden your imagination on that one,” he said. “But obviously if things get worse, things get worse.”

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