Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Pakistan advises Taliban role in Afghan government

Afghan Taliban fighters display their weapons in Ghazni province, 23 January
The Afghan Taliban are fighting foreign and Afghan government forces

The foreign minister of Pakistan has told the BBC that the Afghan government would benefit from involving moderate elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the militant group represented some of Afghanistan's large Pashtun community and had to be taken into consideration.

A "wedge" could be driven between moderates and hardliners, he said.

Mr Qureshi argued that most Pakistanis had turned against the extremism of the country's home-grown Taliban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (file image)
Get them into the mainstream, give them a respectable share in power, it will add to stability
Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Pakistani foreign minister

Pakistan was one of the few countries to recognise the Taliban as Afghanistan's government between the mid-1990s and 2001, when they were ousted by the US-led invasion.

In recent years, Pakistan has been fighting a military campaign against the country's own version of the Taliban, which have their strongholds near the Afghan border.

Speaking in London as the city hosted an international conference on Afghanistan's future, Mr Qureshi said the Pashtuns were Afghanistan's largest ethnic community and could not be ignored.

"Get them into the mainstream, give them a respectable share in power, it will add to stability," he told the BBC World Service.


He rejected the suggestion that giving the Taliban a role in Kabul might encourage the Pakistani Taliban's militant campaign.

"I think it will create a wedge between the hard core and the moderates," he said.

"We in Pakistan have carried out our own national effort. Today in Pakistan people are convinced that this element which wants to Taliban-ise Pakistan is not in line with the overwhelming majority of people in Pakistan."

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