- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Afghan officials said Wednesday Kabul will go it alone in peace talks with Taliban insurgents, having lost faith in Pakistan’s commitment to reconciliation.

The comments, by Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin, were reported by Reuters news agency.

They are the first indication that Afghan officials are prepared to give up on Pakistan — a partner viewed as troublesome by many in Kabul; but seen in the West as an essential player in any peace talks because of its long-standing relationship with Taliban insurgents.

“We here in Kabul are in a bit of a state of shock at once again being confronted by the depth of Pakistan’s complacency, we are just very disappointed,” Mr. Ludin told the agency in an interview.

“But what has happened in the last few months for us, [we] see that Pakistan is changing the goal post every time we reach understanding.”

Separately, Afghan officials they had cancelled a visit to Pakistan by senior military officers due to “unacceptable Pakistani shelling” of the country’s mountainous eastern borderlands.

More than two dozen Pakistani artillery shells were fired into Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar on Monday and Tuesday.

The cancellation of the trip and days of angry diplomatic exchanges have placed further strain on a fraught relationship which is likely to become increasingly important over the next two years as U.S. troops approach their pull-out date in 2014.