Pakistan-Afghanistan talks end without progress


ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s two-day dialogue with Pakistan ended on Saturday without progress on issues dividing the two countries and fueling bilateral tensions, officials said.

Islamabad hosted the meeting of what is named the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity, or APAPPS. The inaugural round of the Pakistan-initiated dialogue was held in Kabul on February 3.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said the two sides held “good” discussions with “some agreements” but said, “further work [was] required”.

He said Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai led their respective delegations comprising senior civilian and military officials.

However, an Afghan Foreign Ministry statement issued in Kabul after Saturday’s talks categorically said the discussions made no headway on matters related to deteriorating security in Afghanistan, reported Voice of America.

“While some progress was made on the mechanism of cooperation, no progress was achieved on specific, results-oriented, time-bound measures in the APAPPS, particularly in the areas of counter-terrorism, reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation to meet the priorities of Afghanistan,” according to the statement.

The Afghan government alleges the Taliban use sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to plot insurgent attacks and claimed last month’s bloody attacks in Kabul were planned in the neighbouring country. Afghan officials also shared what they called “evidence” with Islamabad and demanded swift action against the perpetrators.

Pakistan denied any links to the spate of attacks in the Afghan capital and maintains no Taliban sanctuaries are present on its side of the border. Islamabad has also offered to conduct joint investigations into the recent violence.

For its part, Islamabad also alleges militants conducting terrorist attacks in Pakistan use sanctuaries on Afghan soil for plotting the violence. The allegations and counter allegations have plunged bilateral relations to new lows in recent years.

Saturday’s talks also covered subjects such as repatriation of around three million Afghan refugees from Pakistan and joint economic development.

Pakistani officials insist the prolonged presence of the refugee community coupled with “inadequate” border security on the Afghan side hamper Islamabad’s counterterrorism efforts.

The United States has also increased pressure on Pakistan to take action against alleged militant sanctuaries, including those of the Haqqani terrorist network. Islamabad asserts the country is being scapegoated for US “failures” to secure Afghanistan.


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