Pakistan urges Taliban for Afghan peace talks

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Pakistan on Friday made its first public appeal to the Taliban and other militant groups to participate in an intra-Afghan process for national reconciliation with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, urging their leadership to take part in peace talks with the Afghan government.
This significant move by Islamabad was in response to a request made by the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who recently visited Islamabad, to seek the help of Pakistani leaders in reaching out to Taliban fighters led by Mullah Omar for peace negotiations.
“It is now time to turn a new leaf and open a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan,” the prime minister said in a statement on Afghanistan. “It is time to now combine the strengths of the Afghan people in a true spirit of our noble religion – Islam, and in accordance with the glorious traditions of the Afghans to build peace and bring prosperity to Afghanistan,” he added.
As Gilani made the appeal to Taliban and other Afghan militant groups for peace talks with the Karzai government, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha called on him later in the evening. “The ISI chief discussed with the prime minister the security situation in the country. Afghanistan situation also came under discussion during the meeting. Foreign Affairs Secretary Salman Bashir was also present in the meeting,” said a brief statement issued by the PM’s office.
“It is our sincere hope that the Taliban leadership, Hizb-e-Islami and all other Afghan political leaders will respond positively to my appeal and agree to enter into direct negotiations in the framework of an intra-Afghan process for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan,” the prime minister said.
He said that Pakistan on its part would support such an authentic Afghan process and was prepared to do whatever it could for the success of the peace process. “I would like to appeal to the international community to fully support the national reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan,” the prime minister said.
The Hizb-e-Islami is led by Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, who is a former Afghan prime minister and an important militant commander currently fighting the US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The Taliban are yet to react to the prime minister’s appeal, but according to sources close to their cadres their senior leaders started deliberations soon after the statement by the Pakistani premier appeared. However, the Hizb-e-Islami welcomed the move by Gilani, saying it would help build peace in Afghanistan.
Dr Ghairat Baheer, Hikmatyar’s son-in-law, and the head of Hizb-e-Islami’s political affairs, said: “Our party welcomes the appeal by Prime Minister Gilani … this is a positive move and it will augur well for peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
He said: “The Hizb-e-Islami has also proposed an intra-Afghan dialogue as peace in Afghanistan is possible only through talks between all Afghan groups, but Hizb-e-Islami will not accept any foreign interference in the dialogue between Afghans.”
In his statement, Gilani said: “Afghanistan is a brotherly country, close neighbour, with which Pakistan has multiple bonds of affinity. We value deeply our friendly and brotherly relations with the people of Afghanistan. Pakistan wishes to have the best of relations with Afghanistan. Stability, peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan are indeed critical for regional peace and stability. We are mindful of the importance of ensuring that the processes of peace and reconciliation succeed and thus contribute to the welfare and well-being of the Afghan people.”
He said a sovereign and independent Afghanistan, well on the road to a peaceful and prosperous future, is indeed critical for Pakistan and for our region, as a whole.
“It is in this context that Pakistan has been supportive of all efforts to promote peace, national reconciliation and development. I am happy to state that our relations with Afghanistan have witnessed important positive developments at all levels during the recent years,” he said.
The prime minister said Pakistan firmly believed that respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity as well as adherence to the principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan were of critical importance. “We also believe that the process of national reconciliation must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. It is imperative to promote an intra-Afghan consensus for a durable political settlement that accords with the aspirations of the people of Afghanistan, as a whole.”
He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in an important statement on February 21, 2012, had appealed to Pakistan to support the peace process in Afghanistan. “This is an important statement and Pakistan is duty bound to respond positively to the appeal of President Karzai,” he said. “Pakistan has always held that there is no military solution to the problems of Afghanistan. We have also stated that it is important to create conditions conducive for a grand intra-Afghan settlement, based on national reconciliation that involves the Afghan people without any distinction,” the prime minister said.

1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Prime Minister, instead of advising the Taliban leadership to participate! Why don't you advise the President to dissolve the Parliament and step down in favor of an Interim Government. Such as one known as General Kakar formula, so as to prevent the balkanization of the country.

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