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Onus of reviving peace talks on Kabul, insists Pakistan

Publication Date : 23-10-2012

 

With a stalemate in the Afghan reconciliation process lingering, Pakistan has insisted that it has already done enough and that the onus of putting the peace process back on track lies with Kabul.

“The reconciliation process got stalled because the Taliban were not offered any tangible incentive,” an official said yesterday during a background discussion on the peace talks with insurgents in Afghanistan — a process that has been virtually on hold since March.

He said the responsibility for resuscitating the reconciliation exercise rested with the Afghan government which needed to come up with the right kind of package to offer to the fighters.

Pakistan has long been seen as crucial to peace and stability in Afghanistan, but during the session it appeared that it was no longer willing to work with an unspecified plan of action and undefined terms and conditions.

“How long would we keep issuing appeals to insurgents to join the peace process? We have made our contribution. If they (Afghan government) haven’t been able to convince them (Taliban), how do they expect us to do that.”

Pakistan appealed to the warring factions in Afghanistan in February to join an "intra-Afghan process" for advancing the cause of reconciliation and peace in the war-ravaged country.

The two countries had set up a joint commission on peace and reconciliation last year.

Lately, Pakistan has been working for providing safe passage to "reconcilable Taliban" and their delisting from a United Nations sanctions list. However, nothing concrete has so far been achieved.

“The question is whether the Afghan government has developed consensus over reconciling with the Taliban,” the official said.

The Afghan High Peace Council, tasked with leading the reconciliation process, is said to be facing internal divisions.

While one group comprising former Taliban is pushing for rapprochement with senior cadres of the group, another is for reaching out to mid-level insurgents and yet another one supports preserving the progress achieved during the past 10 years.

With such divisions, analysts say, it would be unrealistic to expect of the council to make any meaningful progress.

The government has been looking forward to a visit by High Peace Council chief Salahuddin Rabbani to discuss Afghan expectations about Pakistan’s help for the process. An invitation for Rabbani was renewed during last month’s trilateral summit in New York involving Pakistan, the United States and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in a related development which has more to do with building trust with Afghanistan, Pakistan has started pushing for enhanced military and intelligence interactions.

“An increase in interaction at the military and intel level would help us work out many of our differences,” the official said, adding that an increased frequency of engagement at the political level had paid dividends in the shape of a better understanding of the Pakistani position in Kabul.

It is believed that increased engagement between the militaries and intelligence organisations would help both countries in improving border management and security situation.

Border shelling

The army has developed standard operating procedures for shelling in response to cross-border raids by Pakistani Taliban having sanctuaries in eastern Afghanistan, the official disclosed.

“It will have to be authorised at a certain level and will be target specific.”

 

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