India should speak with Taliban militants if it feels that it will help the peace process, Pakistan’s envoy to Washington said on Saturday, after a series of attacks in Afghanistan raised questions about whether the US peace effort may collapse.
In an interview last week with The Hindu, an Indian newspaper, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said it would be “appropriate” for an India-Taliban engagement.
India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since they won independence from British colonial rule in 1947 and Pakistan has guarded the influence it has over the Taliban.
Islamabad has long been resistant to India increasing its influence in Pakistan.
“It is for India to respond to that suggestion,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Asad Khan told Reuters.
Asked if he was open to an Indian dialogue with the Taliban, Mr Khan said: “If India feels that their engagement is going to help the peace process, then we would defer to their judgment. But it’s not for us to sit in judgment on what they should do or they shouldn’t do.”
He stopped short of saying he was open to an Indian engagement with the Taliban or whether Islamabad favored such a move.
However, any acquiescence by Islamabad to an Indian role could be seen in Kabul and elsewhere as a sign of growing international concern with the peace push.