By Sanjeev Miglani, Asif Shahzad and Yew Lun Tian
Aug 23 (Reuters) – The Russian and British empires battled over Afghanistan in the 19th century, and the United States and the Soviet Union in the 20th. As the Taliban takes over in the strategic, landlocked nation, the new Great Game has Pakistan in control, with its ally China looking to cement its grip on the region.
Pakistan has deep ties with the Taliban and has been accused of supporting the Islamist group as it battled the U.S.-backed government in Kabul – charges denied by Islamabad. When the Taliban captured Kabul last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said Afghans had broken the “shackles of slavery”.
As the Taliban holds discussions to decide on its government model, media reports have said some Pakistani officials are involved.
A Foreign Office spokesperson in Islamabad said Pakistan wanted an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that ensured peace and stability in the region but added the “key role remains with the Afghans”.