Peace with the Taliban: Three countries, little headway

Published: August 2, 2011

US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman (C), US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter (L) and US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker attend a tripartite meeting of Pakistani, US and Afghan officials at the foreign ministry in Islamabad. PHOTO: REUTERS

US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman (C), US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter (L) and US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker attend a tripartite meeting of Pakistani, US and Afghan officials at the foreign ministry in Islamabad. PHOTO: REUTERS Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Jaweed Ludin (L), Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir (C) and US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman (R) address a joint press conference in Islamabad on August 2, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Pakistani foreign office officials (C), US officials (R) headed by Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, and Afghan foreign office officials headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Jaweed Ludin (L) attend a meeting at the foreign ministry in Islamabad on August 2, 2011. PHOTO: AFP
ISLAMABAD: 

The trilateral meeting of what is called a ‘Core Group’ of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States, which took place in Islamabad on Tuesday, did not produce any significant result on the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Senior officials from the three countries made little headway in accelerating the process of peace-making with the Taliban due to ongoing tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

(Read: US-Pakistan ties — a thaw is not enough)

US special envoy for the region Marc Grossman, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Javed Ludin attended the three-way talks to seek a peaceful end to the war in Afghanistan.

At a joint news conference, the Afghan deputy foreign minister said, “I came here with an urgent message that we need to make the process of reconciliation the central piece of our discussions.”

His remarks highlighted Kabul’s frustration over the slow pace of reconciliation process apparently due to strained ties between Pakistan and the US, both of which are considered to be the major players in any future political dispensation in Afghanistan.

US envoy Grossman acknowledged that his country’s relations with Pakistan had been going through a tough period but insisted the two countries would soon sort out the issues.

Grossman is the first senior US official to visit Islamabad after Washington recently withheld $800 million in military assistance to Pakistan. He insisted that Pakistan and the US shared “common interests and both countries need to identify those shared interests to work jointly.”

Acknowledging Pakistan’s importance in Afghanistan, Grossman also dispelled the impression that the US was in any way going to repeat the mistake from 1990 when it pulled out of Afghanistan in haste leaving Pakistan alone to handle the mess. The Kerry-Luger-Berman Act is a clear manifestation by the US that it is not going to abandon Pakistan, he maintained.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir tried to down play the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and the US saying that he was, “quite confident that the two countries would soon find a way out.”

Restrictions on diplomatic travel

The US and Pakistan were working to smooth over curbs on diplomats’ travels in the country on Tuesday, officials from both sides said.

The Foreign Office has said that the measure is for the safety of diplomats themselves but a senior US official said it smacked of “harassment.”

US embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez tried to play down the dispute, saying much of the ire over diplomats’ travel was a “misunderstanding” blown up by the raucous Pakistani media.

“We’re working with the Pakistan government to resolve the issue,” he said.

A foreign ministry official also confirmed that efforts were underway to “address” the matter.

Foreign ministry officials say the restrictions – requiring diplomats get “No Objections Certificates”, or NoCs, from authorities before leaving Islamabad – are neither new nor specific to US officials. Rather, they were meant to ensure the security of diplomats.

The US, however, says the Vienna Convention allows freedom of movement for diplomats, especially when travelling to its consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar.

NoCs have always been required for certain areas of the country, and the US acknowledges that, a US source familiar with the talks between the two countries said.

What is new is a requirement for diplomats to apply for a NoC to leave the capital, especially to travel to consulates, the source said, adding: “We’re getting to an agreement that gives us what we want, and something everyone can live with.” (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM REUTERS)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Aug 2, 2011 - 4:14PM

    Pakistan should hang the ambassador of US and hold other foreigners as hostages till the US and its so called allies leave this part of the world. and pass the law that US is our enemy just like India and Israel, each one of us know that deep inside our hearts. We dont want your money, assistance we have all the resources we want and need in order to make this place peaceful.

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  • Aug 2, 2011 - 4:37PM

    Lesson in history:

    It was the year 1976 and the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was on a visit to Pakistan, to meet the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The Americans wanted Pakistan to give up their nuclear project, and Henry Kissinger was on a mission to deliver the US President’s message to Bhutto. Mr Bhutto listened to Kissinger very patiently and then addressed him, “you are my friend, please advise me what I should do.” Kissinger smiled a bit, and said softly, “Mr Prime Minister! In the game of diplomacy and power, nobody is any one else’s friend. I am only a messenger at this time. You should consult one of your own advisors”. Bhutto smiled and replied in a beautiful tone, “I still consider you my friend despite that and so request your advice.” Henry Kissinger laughed heartily, and looking at Bhutto, said, “you are really a chess master.” Bhutto stared at him silently.
    Kissinger waited for a while, and said in a cultured tone, “Basically I have come not to advise, but to warn you. USA has numerous reservations about Pakistan’s atomic programme; therefore you have no way out, except agreeing to what I say”. Bhutto smiled and asked, “suppose I refuse, then what?” Henry Kissinger became dead serious.
    He locked his eyes on Bhutto’s and spewed out deliberately, “Then we will make a horrible example of you!” Bhutto’s face flushed. He stood up, extended his hand towards Kissinger and said, “Pakistan can live without the US President. Now your people will have to find some other ally in this region.” Bhutto then turned and went out.

    As for who are still in denial, Kissinger and Brzezinski are still the policy maker behind nobel laureate for peace Mr. Obama.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Aug 2, 2011 - 5:03PM

    These talks will not bear fruit unless American get out of Afghanistan and leave it to the people of these countries to decide. As long as American are there, all countries around him are seriously threatened therefore all will interfere and support various groups in Afghanistan against American times to come.If Russian were not acceptable at that time how come Americans are acceptable because now Americans are seriously threatening social,cultural and religious environment of Afghanistan.

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  • Chengez K
    Aug 2, 2011 - 9:17PM

    A more apt heading would be:

    “Pakistan,Afghanistan & U.S hold theatrical talks”

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  • Zafar
    Aug 3, 2011 - 1:39AM

    The time has come for the US to hand over control of Pakistan to Afghanistan.

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  • Vicram Singh
    Aug 3, 2011 - 1:42AM

    I think Pakistan cooked its own goose. Pakistan, instead of wanting US to succeed in Afghanistan and to stabilize it, did all it can to ensure an American defeat in Afghanistan. An unstable Afghanistan will only bite Pakistan, destabilize and fragment it further OR Pakistan may even get its wish of unification with a talibanized Afghaistan.

    The ruling elite in Pakistan (Military, ISI, Hamid Guls, etc) may think that they defeated the US in Afghanistan, but the jihadi foot soldier will see Americas defeat as something they have achieved and then they will demand power and access to nuclear weapons.

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  • Get Out America
    Aug 3, 2011 - 2:57AM

    Best thing for Pakistan and Afghanistan is for the USA to get out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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  • Aug 3, 2011 - 7:52AM

    @Vicram Singh:
    Keep trying to incite. Indians trying to dig hole for themselves.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Aug 3, 2011 - 10:33AM

    Pakistan is only interested to broker a deal with Afghan Taleban all by itself since it is harbouring them since long and even played a double game with the Americans for ten years to safeguard its so-called strategic goals to keep India out of the loop. However, according to most defence analysts, Pakistan strategy would most likely backfire and result in total anarchy in the whole country but its military is unlikely to concede any ground on this issue.

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  • Aamir
    Aug 3, 2011 - 10:58AM

    US is serving its purpose by planting corrupt regime in Pakistan. Pakistan is gradually bleeding to death.

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  • malik
    Aug 3, 2011 - 2:40PM

    @Moise:

    That was a nice cut-paste job; but you have omitted the preface written by the author Mr Moin Ansari in Rupee News in 2007.

    “The following is an unconfirmed and unverified account of a person who wishes to remain anonymous. The account is the narration of experiences of a senior foreign ministry official who, according to the writer, was privy to ZA Bhutto-Henry Kissinger talk and later witness to General Ziaul Haq’s outburst of anger against US in front of its ambassador.

    The question of veracity of this write-up remains unanswered and the identity and whereabouts of the official and the author of this story are yet to be ascertained, it makes for interesting reading, nevertheless…”

    The credibility of Mr Moin Ansari is all well too-known…

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  • haris
    Aug 3, 2011 - 4:26PM

    @Vicram Singh:
    Do you(Bharat) accept a Stable neighbor (Pakistan)?

    If YES, then please wake up before your own people haunt you dead.
    IF NO, then please don’t share your invaluable comments at our News Forums.

    thanks

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  • Truth Prevails
    Aug 3, 2011 - 6:15PM

    @Shairyar:
    Why we don’t want money … That is our money after-all. We have fought there war, they can’t get rid from here for free. They must pay even for their exit, otherwise keep staying their for 10 more years.

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  • poppy
    Aug 4, 2011 - 11:49AM

    @haris:
    ‘stable’ or unstable pakistan, both are same,

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  • Aug 9, 2011 - 12:12PM

    @malik:
    Name calling and character assassination is the modus operandi in dealing with evidence. I am not surprised if the bureaucrat decided to remain anonymous in fear of his lives which have anyone opposing them fall from skies or killed by non-existent land cruiser latch.

    Maybe this latest video http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=95795857464082962 will highlight which story is correct, Kissinger and cabal of oligarchs pawn are our friend or foe you decide yourself.

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