A senior Pakistani official has admitted publicly for the first time that the Afghan Taliban's leadership is living in Pakistan.
Sartaj Aziz, a top foreign affairs adviser for Pakistan's government, said in Washington that Islamabad has considerable influence over the Taliban because "their leadership is in Pakistan and they get some medical facilities."
He said: "Their families are here. We can use those levers to pressurize to say, 'Come to the table.' But we can’t negotiate on behalf of the Afghan government because we cannot offer them what the Afghan government can offer them.”
Aziz made the remarks at a March 1 gathering hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think tank.
Pakistan has denied for years that the Afghan Taliban enjoys a safe haven in its territory or that Islamabad can do anything to stop their insurgency in Afghanistan.
But Pakistan is now working to bring Taliban leaders into direct peace talks with the Afghan government that are expected to start this week in Islamabad.