Pakistan, India to come face to face in Moscow

Published: February 8, 2017
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PHOTO: PTI

PHOTO: PTI

ISLAMABAD: Russia, joined by China, is set to host six-nation talks this month on Afghanistan in an unprecedented development where arch-rival Pakistan and India are also invited to discuss options for seeking a peaceful end to the lingering unrest in the war-torn country.

The talks involving host Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India are scheduled to be held in Moscow in mid-February, according to the Russian media following talks between Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani on Tuesday.

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The United States, a major stakeholder, however, has not been invited to the meeting in what appears to be significant move suggesting that both Russia and China are now seeking a regional solution to the Afghan problem.

However, Russian state media quoting a senior diplomat said US could join the six-nation talks once the new administration there determines what they are planning to do in Afghanistan. US President Donald Trump has yet to announce his policy on Afghanistan as he is currently embroiled in domestic issues particularly after his controversial executive order banning nationals from seven Muslim majority countries to travel to the US.

What is significant of the Moscow talks is that both Pakistan and India will join other regional countries to discuss the future of Afghanistan. Although, Islamabad and New Delhi are part of Heart of Asia Istanbul initiative, this is the first time India has been invited to talks exclusively focused on seeking the revival of peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the government.

Pakistan has always opposed India’s role in Afghan affairs. The opposition stems from  fears that Indian intelligence agencies have been using Afghan soil to create instability in Pakistan. New Delhi, on the other hand, accused Islamabad of supporting the Afghan Taliban to further its interests.

Given divergent interests as well as current strain in ties, it is not clear how Pakistan and India will come together on the issue of Afghanistan. While Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran are all in favour of direct talks with the Afghan Taliban, India is reluctant to support such a move fearing that this will provide legitimacy to the insurgents.

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There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan over the announcement made by the Russian foreign minister.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Afghan counterpart, Lavrov said most of the countries confirmed their participation. “We are expecting that our partners will be represented at a high level.” he said.

He reiterated Moscow’s stance that “Taliban must be included in a constructive dialogue” to help find a solution to halt worsening violence in the war-ravaged nation at a time the Islamic State group has expanded its presence.

Russia, which for years opposed Afghan Taliban, has recently changed its position and now sought direct talks between the Ghani administration and insurgents. It also hosted a trilateral meeting in December last year involving China and Pakistan. The support to peace efforts by two key international players is seen as diplomatic victory for Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2017.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Lumdheeng
    Feb 8, 2017 - 9:47AM

    What happened to earlier talks, on Afghanistan when there were three nations, Russia, Iran and Pakistan? Did not work, without Afghanistan and Indians? Russia annexed Crimea without any talks, China continues to repress Tibetans and the Uighur Muslims of Xingxiang province. How can these nations bring peace who are not peaceful with their neighbors?Recommend

  • Ahmar Khan
    Feb 8, 2017 - 10:02AM

    I love how Russia and China snubbed USA here. Really hope Pakistan, Afghanistan and India reach a breakthrough on the whole mess and we can get on the path of peace in Asia.Recommend

  • Vectra
    Feb 8, 2017 - 10:54AM

    “Russia, joined by China, is set to host six-nation talks this month on Afghanistan in an unprecedented development where arch-rival Pakistan and India”

    Turn of table?? What happened to many in Pakistan who were claiming that a new trilateral superpower alliance involving Russia-Pakistan-China has been formed leaves India out soon after the 3 met in Moscow for discussions on Afghanistan????

    I have said then that such kind of hundreds and thousands meetings place throughout the globe each day and each year.Some between friends and between adversaries but claiming that alliance is formed after such meting is fool hardy.

    Now see what happened now,India is there and this meeting consists of friends and adversaries both.Recommend

  • whatever
    Feb 8, 2017 - 11:03AM

    Afghanistan trusts India more than any other country and India will never break Afghans trust. Without India involvement in any peace talk can be possible.Recommend

  • bashir gul
    Feb 8, 2017 - 11:25AM

    Even the Kashmir issue should be discussed.Recommend

  • JKhan
    Feb 8, 2017 - 11:44AM

    Two enemies of Palistan.Recommend

  • Javaid Randhawa
    Feb 8, 2017 - 12:23PM

    India takes an opportunity to disrupt peace .Recommend

  • Deb
    Feb 8, 2017 - 12:35PM

    discussion on baloochistan and POk is pendingRecommend

  • rich
    Feb 8, 2017 - 1:10PM

    oops

    a few months back everyone was crooning that a few countries met togather to discuss afghanistan future, and india was not invited

    now what happned, without india there will be no talks about afghanistan, bec our afghani brothers know india will fight for afghanistan intrest

    when we are in a group of country discussing afghanistan we will stand by what afghani want, not what others wantRecommend

  • Vivek
    Feb 8, 2017 - 2:27PM

    @bashir gul:
    If that so India will not participate,anyone in the group has the guts,except Pak to talk about itRecommend

  • BrainBro
    Feb 8, 2017 - 2:54PM

    Indians, and Pakistanis – who are Indian Origin People, not Arabs – are one people separated by “made-up” hate. To a third party observer, the entire situation is nothing short of complete retardation.Recommend

  • Trollslayer
    Feb 8, 2017 - 10:37PM

    @ BrainBro
    Best comment! IndoPak people are one and the same. As a third party observer, here in USA, I find the made up hatred retarded as well.

    Third party observers look at IndoPak actors Riz Ahmed, Kunal Nayyar, Aziz Ansari, Asif Mandvi, Kumail Nanjiani and Rahul Khanna and wonder who’s Indo and who is Pak.Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Feb 8, 2017 - 10:48PM

    @whatever: not reaally….no afghans, except those sitting in the gov’t, trust india. and pakistan will continue doing what it can to reduce india’s power. remember, we know the country like our back hand. Recommend

  • Sheraz
    Feb 8, 2017 - 10:59PM

    @DEB…Please include Khalistan & Assam as well..:)Recommend

  • Ramesh Sharma
    Feb 9, 2017 - 9:06AM

    @JKhan:
    Who is a friend of Pakistan except China? Once China is fully dug in Pakistan and start fleecing Pakistan then Pakistan will be left with no friend. Wait and watch.Recommend

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