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Pakistan remains most important neighbour for Afghanistan: US report

 WASHINGTON: Pakistan is a neighboring country that is critical to resolving the Afghan conflict, according to an official report prepared by members of the US Congress.

The report, prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), states that regional power, as well as the involvement of foreign powers, will continue to disrupt the conflict in Afghanistan.

"The neighboring country considered to be the most important in this regard is Pakistan, which has played a significant role, and by many accounts, has been involved in Afghan affairs for decades," he added.

The report, which was submitted to Congress on March 25, highlights two key issues that it says will be at the forefront of Afghanistan's internal dialogue - reducing violence and determining the future formation of the Afghan state.

Including a current quote from Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, opposing the immediate withdrawal of American and Nato troops from Afghanistan. "If we go, we risk Afghanistan again to be a safe haven for foreign terrorists, as well as the loss of profits made by such sacrifices," Mr Stoltenberg warned in a statement.

In a chapter on how Afghanistan's neighbors influence Afghanistan's peace process, the report states that "Pakistani security forces, fearing a strategic siege by India, apparently continue to view the Afghan Taliban as a friendly and loyal force against India in Afghanistan."

India's "communications and trade presence" in Afghanistan - and the indirect US support for it - fuels Pakistan's fear of being surrounded, "the report said.

CRS reports that for more than a year, US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has held a series of meetings with Taliban officials in Doha, as well as consultations with the Afghan, Pakistani and other regional governments.

Pakistan remains most important neighbour for Afghanistan: US report

“Pakistani security forces maintain ties with Afghan forces, especially the Haqqani Network. Afghan leaders, as well as US military leaders, say the great strength and longevity of the rebels directly or indirectly support Pakistan, ”the report said.

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