BY JOHN BOWDE
U.S. and Taliban officials say that Pakistan's government has taken an increased role in working to facilitate negotiations between the U.S.-allied Afghan government and Taliban militants.
A senior U.S. official told Reuters that Pakistan's government has "facilitated some movement" between Afghanistan and the Taliban's political office in Qatar, while adding that negotiations "wouldn't be possible" without Pakistan's assistance.
“We know it just wouldn’t be possible without their support.”
“They’ve facilitated some movement and travel to the discussions in Doha,” the official told Reuters.
Some Taliban sources added to Reuters that Pakistan's "support" for U.S. forces involved detaining family members of Taliban militants to exert pressure on those who do not cooperate with U.S. negotiations.
“I haven’t seen Pakistan so serious before,” a Taliban leader told Reuters. “They made it clear to us that we (Taliban) have to talk to the U.S. and Afghan government."
Some U.S. officials, however, warned the news service that any move from Pakistan's government was centered in "self-interest" and that many were still skeptical about Pakistan's involvement.
“There’s some self-interest obviously involved here ... I would be wary of taking that and extrapolating off that and saying they’re now on board with the peace process,” said Jason Campbell, who previously oversaw efforts in Afghanistan for the Pentagon.
The conflict in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is now America's longest-running armed conflict.