KABUL: The leader of an Afghan peace delegation to Pakistan denied on Monday that the two countries had reached an agreement to hold a peace gathering, contradicting an earlier statement from Islamabad.
A group from President Hamid Karzai’s High Council for Peace (HCP), led by former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, held high-level talks in Islamabad last week.
The foreign ministry said that the two countries had reached an agreement to convene a peace jirga in the coming months, but Rabbani denied it.
“During our trip, while we were in Pakistan, there were some reports and rumours around, most of which were propaganda and were not true,” Rabbani told a press conference in Kabul.
“For example, it was said that there, we have requested the setting up of a jirga. We only said there that in the past, we had the regional peace jirga.”
However, he added that talks had been held in a “sincere atmosphere” and the delegation had been given assurances by political, military and religious figures that they will “fully cooperate” with the peace process in Afghanistan.
The HCP was set up last year by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has appeared more willing to include Pakistan in talks after years of accusing it of sponsoring the insurgency to defend strategic interests in the region.
During the trip to Pakistan, the delegation met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the ISI and the governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Owais Ahmed Ghani.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2011.