Postponement of trilateral talks: Afghan endgame could be at stake, says official

Published: February 14, 2011

US Marines from 1st Battalion 8th, Bravo patrol during an operation near Zalmabad village in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on January 23, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The diplomatic row between Pakistan and the United States over the fate of American citizen Raymond Davis, accused of killing two Pakistanis, can potentially freeze and debilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, cautioned a Foreign Office official after Washington put off the key trilateral meeting.

The State Department said on Saturday that the trilateral meeting with Pakistan and Afghanistan had been postponed “due to political developments in Pakistan.”

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir tried to play down the move, saying the meeting would be rescheduled and that it had nothing to do with the Davis issue.

“There is no doubt it was a crucial meeting and its postponement is certainly a setback for the Afghan reconciliation process,” the Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.

He said Pakistan and Afghanistan were all set to put up a joint strategy at the meeting on the Afghan endgame. The ‘comprehensive plan,’ the official added, focused on finding a political solution to the Afghan insurgency. Last month, Pakistan and Afghanistan formed a joint commission to hold direct negotiations with the Taliban as part of the reconciliation process.

“Though the normal channels are operational, it was the first high-level meeting among the three countries after President Obama unveiled the first year-end review of his Afghan policy in December, last year,” the official said.

“We have been working hard to work out a blueprint for the Afghan future and the meeting in Washington would have provided us the opportunity to push the process forward,” he added.  The trilateral meeting was important in the sense that it came just months before the US-led Nato troops would start pulling out from Afghanistan by July this year.

“It is unfortunate that the US has put the Afghan strategy at stake just for one citizen who has killed two Pakistanis in broad daylight,” said another official.

The ties between Washington and Islamabad were strained by the controversy.

However, the Foreign Office spokesman hoped that the postponement was temporary. “We hope the meeting will be rescheduled soon, as one individual should not drive our relations,” Abdul Basit told The Express Tribune.

Analysts believe the US is using pressure tactics to secure the release of its citizen. “I think this is a pressure tactic by the Americans to seek the release of Raymond Davis,” commented former secretary Fata Brig (retd) Mahmood Shah.

Meanwhile, the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Sunday demanded that the government execute Raymond Davis, or hand him over to the group. “We demand that the Pakistani government hang Raymond Davis or otherwise hand him over to us. We will decide his fate,” TTP spokesperson Azam Tariq told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“He was here for spying. He is an American spy. We will kill all those people and will target them who will help him (Davis) or try to set him free,” Tariq said. (with additional input from afp)

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Ben
    Feb 14, 2011 - 1:55PM

    Who is this guy whose real name we have yet to find out and who has been given the name of Mr. Raymond Davis? Why is the US administration of President Obama ready to go to any extent to secure his release, even if it means abandoning of a strategic ally like Pakistan, sacrificing its core values and further tarnishing the US image as a bully and a bulldozer of the process of law? We are told that his real identity is being concealed which means that he was sent to Pakistan and the diplomatic status to him, if at all it was granted, was granted on a fake identity. Is it how the entire diplomatic staff is posted to the US posts around the globe or was it a special gesture shown for a country which made tremendous sacrifices to keep the West safe from terrorists? These questions are very intriguing and sometimes it sounds as if the man in question is a top US official whose release has become a matter of life and death for the US. Read more at: link textRecommend

  • mohammad Bilal
    Feb 14, 2011 - 2:06PM

    It is very clear with documents already receivedby geo tv that he is not by any means a diplomat
    but a contract killer doing all sort of bad things in our country. people like him should be punishedRecommend

  • sohaib
    Feb 14, 2011 - 5:06PM

    ever since he has been held, there have been fewer terrorist attacks in Punjab and drone strikes are gone!! Haven’t you noticed that? He is something big. Thats why our government’s lord the Uncle Sam is willing to lose everything for this man. Recommend

  • Ismat Alavi
    Feb 14, 2011 - 7:06PM

    The size of US Embassy staff , diplomatic or otherwise should be curtailed by the Pakistan
    government . After all what is the purpose of thousands of Americans roaming around and sniffing around things . It is only wishful thinking that they are here for the good of Pakistan or
    our people . Recommend

  • steven
    Feb 14, 2011 - 10:57PM

    Pakistan is now the hub of international spies and agencies working to destabilise it in order to get much needed support for USA. Get up Pakistan.Recommend

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