Islamabad talks of ‘limitations’ amid push for Afghan peace

Published: December 7, 2018
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Foreign Office spokesperson  Muhammad Faisal. PHOTO: FILE

Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal. PHOTO: FILE

KAMRAN YOUSAF: Pakistan on Thursday said it has its ‘limitations’ to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table as the United States stepped up efforts to find a political settlement to the lingering conflict in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump recently wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking Pakistan’s help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table to the 17-year-long war.

Islamabad, welcoming Washington’s move, has said it would extend all possible assistance for the purpose.

But speaking at his weekly news briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal spoke about Pakistan’s limitations regarding the Taliban.

“We have been repeatedly saying that Pakistan has its limitations regarding the Taliban,” Faisal responded to a question whether Pakistan had the influence to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

“However, we continue to make all possible efforts in this regard,” he added.

He said what was positive, though, was that all stakeholders to the conflict have now endorsed Pakistan’s position that the final settlement of the Afghan conflict could only be achieved through dialogue.

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“It is heartening to know that the US is finally realising the same. I cannot share the details with you at this moment. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was in Pakistan for discussions. There is also activity in Qatar. We also remain engaged with the Afghan government regarding the peace process,” he said.

“The point that has to be registered is that all the stakeholders involved in the Afghan peace process are now in agreement with our considered position that the solution to the Afghan conflict rests in dialogue through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.”

US officials recently held talks with the Taliban representatives in Doha where the insurgent group maintains its political office.

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Pakistan is also thought to have played a part in those negotiations by releasing certain Taliban commanders — including Mullah Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban movement and former deputy to Mullah Omar.

The US; however, appears to be not convinced that the ongoing efforts could yield any peace deal. It is requesting Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban to name a negotiating team that has full authority to discuss a peace deal.

‘No compromise on Kashmir stance’

The spokesperson said Pakistan was planning to complete the Kartarpur Corridor before the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

However, he clarified that the opening of the corridor did not mean Pakistan would put the long-standing Kashmir dispute on the back burner.

“With regards to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, if there is any idea in the mind of anybody that due to Kartarpur or any other reason, the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be put on the back burner, it is misplaced,” Faisal stressed.

“Please register that Jammu and Kashmir is our core dispute and it has to be resolved in line with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people,” he further said.

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