ISLAMABAD: While acknowledging that Afghan Taliban have not responded positively to the four-nation peace initiative, Islamabad on Friday urged Kabul to come with ‘more unified and coherent’ approach in favour of reconciliation.
“Without reconciliation, peace cannot return to Afghanistan,” remarked Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in a keynote address on Pakistan-Afghanistan dialogue organised by the Regional Peace Institute.“We believe that there is a need for more unified and coherent messaging from Kabul in favour of peace and reconciliation with Taliban,” said the adviser, suggesting that Pakistan was skeptical of the current approach of Kabul towards the peace initiative.
Aziz attempted to dispel the impression that the Afghan Taliban were under Pakistan’s thumb. “Vested interests have often tried to create a perception that Pakistan actually controls the Taliban,” he said, adding that such an impression breeds unrealistic expectations from Pakistan.
Aziz said the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) had been making joint efforts to arrange direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. “The Taliban have not yet responded positively to these efforts but we believe that QCG countries in line with their shared responsibility should continue efforts for peace talks,” he stressed.
The adviser made it clear that the peace process was the only best option available to restore stability in Afghanistan. However, he admitted that Pakistan and Afghanistan had to overcome their trust-deficit. “The mistrust between the two countries has also affected the efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.
“There is a need for wide ranging discussion between Pakistan and Afghanistan at all levels. This would help to restore trust. We are ready to engage,” he suggested. He also urged Afghanistan to stop giving negative statements about Pakistan as, according to him, such a policy was impeding constructive engagement.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry told Reuters that Afghanistan must limit military gains by the Taliban and offer incentives to the insurgents to revive a faltering peace effort. The foreign secretary said efforts to persuade the Taliban to talk directly to the Kabul government could only bear fruit if the Afghan army stopped the Taliban from gaining the upper hand.
“We believe that there should be effective action by Afghan national security forces to ensure that there are no military gains by the Taliban,” Chaudhry told Reuters, in an interview late on Thursday.
“[The Taliban] need to realise that they would have more to gain on the table than they can do on the battlefield,” he said, adding that Pakistan was doing all it could to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2016.