United States trying to to safeguard Afghan peace push from India-Pakistan crisis

Vastavam web: The United States is trying to prevent simmering tensions between India and Pakistan from impacting a third country: Afghanistan, where a fragile peace push is underway to try to end more than 17 years of war with Taliban insurgents. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been publicly focused on lowering tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals since a Feb. 14 suicide car bomb in an Indian-controlled area of Kashmir triggered the first Indian air strikes inside of Pakistan since a 1971 war.

Pakistani officials said their ability to support Afghan peace talks could be in jeopardy in the event of a full-blown crisis, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They’ll stop being a facilitator, they will stop the pressure they are applying” on the Taliban, one U.S. official said, recounting Pakistani warnings conveyed to Washington.

Pakistan has publicly denied any role in the suicide bombing. But the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group claimed responsibility for it, and India has long accused Islamabad of supporting them. Pakistan, long at odds with the United States over the war in Afghanistan, has played a behind-the-scenes role in supporting U.S. peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, including by facilitating travel to negotiations.

Current and former U.S. officials caution that Islamabad could again choose to act as a spoiler. “I don’t believe that Pakistan has the capability to straight out make peace happen in Afghanistan, but they definitely have the capability to make peace not (happen),” said Laurel Miller, a former senior State Department official.