President Asif Ali Zardari will discuss ways Pakistan can help restore peace and stability to Afghanistan during a trilateral exchange at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Foreign Office sources said on Friday.
Requesting anonymity, the source said that the summit –the second extended trilateral talks in the past three months — will focus on how Pakistan can help facilitate peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban and will also be attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The meeting, like the earlier July summit, is being hosted by Cameron who has taken upon himself the mantle of “honest broker”, and is looking to mend fences between Kabul and Islamabad after several cross border attacks against Pakistani security forces dented relations during the past few months.
The process of finding a mechanism for starting negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict reached some consensus during the July summit when Afghan media reported that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf assured Karzai and Cameron that Pakistan would help arrange meetings between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives for formal peace talks.
During the summit, the British prime minister had lauded the efforts of Pakistan during the war on terror and termed Pakistan’s role in regional stability “significant”.
Prime Minister Ashraf had earlier assured his counterparts that Pakistan would continue to play its role for regional stability and during his interaction with reporters at the Kabul garden palace Ashraf had added that “Pakistan is playing the role of a facilitator. If Pakistan can facilitate in any manner, we will do it.”
Foreign Office sources confirmed that following the day long talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan in July, the two countries had agreed to resume meetings of the two-track Peace Commission which had ended abruptly after the death of Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the Afghan Council for Peace.
As a result, an Afghan peace delegation headed by Salahuddin Rabbani had been scheduled to visit Islamabad. The visit was aimed at finalizing modalities of peace talks with the Afghan Taliban with Pakistan playing the role of a facilitator. However, an increase in cross border attacks had delayed the visit and stalled the peace process.
Meanwhile, another source at the foreign ministry revealed to The Express Tribune that President Asif Ali Zardari would highlight Pakistan’s efforts for regional stability particularly towards finding a solution for the Afghan conflict during his address to the United Nations General Assembly.
The trilateral dialogue and the effort to fix relations between Kabul and Islamabad, if successful, will play an important part in finding a permanent solution to the Afghan conflict through peaceful negotiations.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2012.
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