WASHINGTON: The United States should consult the Taliban on any extension of a May 1 deadline for a full US troop pullout from Afghanistan and should not decide unilaterally, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States has said, foreign media reported on Saturday.
Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan’s comments come as the Biden administration conducts a review of a February 2020 deal with the Taliban that is expected to determine whether it will meet the deadline to withdraw the last US soldiers from America’s longest war.
US and European officials say the Taliban have not fulfilled commitments they made in the accord and that conditions are not conducive to advancing the peace process amid a surge in violence blamed on the insurgents. The Taliban deny the charges.
Khan told an online forum sponsored by the Stimson Center that US officials should consult the Taliban before deciding whether to maintain the last 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan.
“That is where the process should start,” Khan said. “To present this as a fait accompli, I think, will only create difficulty.” Khan’s comments were significant as Pakistan, which helped facilitate the US-Taliban negotiations in Doha that clinched the February 2020 deal, wields considerable influence with the insurgents.