At a time when the United States is supporting a reconciliation effort in Afghanistan, Pakistan needs to focus on the Taliban on its side of the border by both signaling its support to the talks and squeezing down the militants, the US state department has said.
Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the strategy of "fight, talk, build" is aimed at supporting the Afghans in their offensive in the safe havens on their side of the border, and it also needs Pakistan "to be vigorous on their side of the border".
"And we're prepared to support that," Nuland said in response to a question.
"As we support an Afghan-led effort to talk, the Pakistanis also have to be signaling to Taliban who may be reconcilable on their side of the border that they support talk within the Afghan redlines and that this is what it's going to take, everybody pulling together, squeezing together and encouraging talk together," she said.
Referring to the Istanbul conference on Afghanistan beginning, Nuland said the focus is to try to get these countries pulling in the same direction under an Afghan lead and within the redlines and constraints that the Afghans have put out, supported by the US.
"If there are fighters -- junior-level, medium-level, senior-level -- willing to come off the battlefield, they have to make absolutely clear they are breaking their ties with Al Qaeda, they are prepared to support the constitution of Afghanistan in all of its elements, including its support for the rights of women, and they are renouncing violence," she said.
She said the US has been advocating supporting Afghan-led reconciliation within redlines for at least two years.
"I think the issue here is trying to help the Afghans and the Pakistanis be on the same page with regard to the parameters of talking at the same time that we are making sure that, as we talk about talking, that those who are not willing to reconcile know that the Afghans, with our support, are going to keep fighting them and that we're pressing the Pakistanis to also squeeze them," Nuland said.
"This is an effort to ensure that Afghanistan and Pakistan are working in harmony; and they're communicating well together; and that US support, whether it's to Afghanistan or whether it's to Pakistan, serves that goal of helping them to work together on both the fight side and the talk side and, frankly, the build side, which takes you to the new Silk Road Initiative and our hope that we can move from aid to trade with both countries and that they can begin to trade more with each other, et cetera," the spokeswoman said.