Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie, the next chief of the US Central Command (Centcom) has said that there are two key elements of an Afghan peace deal — Pakistan’s concerns over India’s growing influence in Afghanistan and what the US could do to allay those concerns, reported the Dawn.
Both issues were highlighted at a congressional hearing this week by McKenzie in a written response to the US Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing the other day.
He also said that as Centcom chief, he “will make Pakistan a priority engagement”.
“At this time, Pakistan does not appear to be using the full extent of its influence to encourage the Taliban to come to the table,” he wrote in a response posted on the committee’s website on Wednesday.
“We continue to see the Taliban being utilised as a hedge against India rather than as part of a stable, reconciled Afghanistan,” he added.
Gen McKenzie acknowledged that Pakistan “has national interests it wants addressed in any future political settlement in the region, including a politically stable Afghanistan”.
He said that under his command, US Centcom would continue to support efforts “towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Afghanistan which includes ensuring that Islamabad’s equities are acknowledged in any future agreement”.