ISLAMABAD: US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to pursue more concessions from the Afghan Taliban in a move that could place more pressure on Pakistan, which played a key role in brokering the Trump administration’s peace agreement with the insurgents.
In the run-up to the US presidential elections, the Biden foreign policy team was in touch with concerned authorities in Pakistan, officials familiar with the development told The Express Tribune.
A briefing by Pakistani authorities on the peace process and the path forward was issued to the Biden team. The message these officials got from the experiences is that unlike Trump, the Biden administration will review the US-Taliban agreement on February 29 by pursuing further Taliban concessions.
“The Trump administration might have got concessions it wanted but Biden would want to seek more concessions,”The Trump administration might have the concessions it wanted, but Biden would want to seek more concessions.
“Biden will pursue an orderly evacuation of forces. He will take the credit if the procedure is successful, and if it is not, he will blame the Trump administration,” the office added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Biden is expected to call for a truce as well as human rights assurances from the Taliban, something that the Democrats have already advocated for. Analysts think that the push for further compromises by Biden is likely to place more pressure on Pakistan.
The reasoning for this is that Pakistan was instrumental in initially brokering the Afghan Taliban-US talks that led to the intra-Afghan talks.
A formal truce or at least a reduction in conflict has been pursued by the Afghan government and the US. The Taliban, however, declined to consider the offer, maintaining that the truce must be part of the broader deal to be achieved through intra-Afghan negotiations.
As the two sides still have to agree on the rules of engagement and the agenda for the negotiations, the intra-Afghan dialogue has yet to make any significant headway.
In the other side, the Trump administration has announced that by January 15, just days before Biden’s inauguration, 2,000 more US soldiers will leave Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, this will leave only 2,500 U.S. forces, something that might further embolden the Taliban.
But analysts feel that in the event of the current peace process failing, the US still has the firepower to stop the Taliban. The problem for Pakistan and other US allies as well as enemies is that the hasty withdrawal of troops could plunge the nation into another period of civil war.
In a situation where Afghanistan has some semblance of peace, the incoming US president may put the troop withdrawal on hold or pursue a pullout. Pakistan has also pursued an orderly withdrawal of US troops to ensure that previous failures do not repeat themselves.
“There will be clarity in the Biden administration’s policy on Afghanistan when it is given a briefing by relevant US authorities on the current situation,” the official said. “One thing is clear that when it comes to the Afghan endgame, Pakistan will remain in the spotlight,” he said.