Afghan reconciliation talks: Pakistan worried about being left out in the cold

Published: June 21, 2011
State Minister Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar met with US Deputy Special Representative Frank Ruggiero.

State Minister Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar met with US Deputy Special Representative Frank Ruggiero.


Pakistan on Monday sought ‘greater transparency and clarity’ from the United States in its plans to reach out to the Afghan Taliban in a move that indicates Islamabad’s unease over Washington’s recent overtures with insurgents.

The Obama administration has recently confirmed that it had established contacts with the Afghan Taliban though it insisted the negotiations were at a preliminary stage.

It is widely believed that the US has deliberately kept Pakistan at bay about its efforts to seek a peace deal with the Taliban ahead of the phased withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Senior Pakistani officials conveyed concerns to visiting US deputy special  representative Frank Ruggiero about Washington’s ‘attempts to bypass’ Islamabad, sources told The Express Tribune.

The statement issued by the Foreign Ministry after talks between State Minister Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and Ruggiero clearly indicated Pakistan’s discomfort with the US approach on the Afghan reconciliation process.

It said the two discussed the Afghan reconciliation process that seeks a political solution to the decade-old war.

“The Minister (Hina Rabbani Khar) underscored the importance of clarity and strategic coherence as well as transparency to facilitate the Afghan people and the Afghan government in the process for peace and reconciliation,” said the statement after her meeting with Ruggiero. However, it stopped short of directly pointing fingers at the US.

But a Pakistani diplomat, who is posted in Kabul, was more forthcoming about the US role in Afghan reconciliation process.

Islamabad is being kept in the dark by the US over its recent contacts with the Taliban, said the diplomat, who requested not to be named.

“We do know that some meetings have taken place between the US officials and the Afghan Taliban in Germany and Qatar,” he added.

“It seems Pakistan is being deliberately kept out by the US to minimise our role in future political dispensation of Afghanistan,” he insisted. However, he cautioned that such a move will not succeed as Islamabad has ‘legitimate stakes’ in Afghanistan.

The US Envoy, on the other hand underscored the importance of the Core Group composed of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation and peace.

“It was agreed that the Pakistan-US relations were on track and that enhanced interaction between the
two sides at several levels greatly facilitated better understanding of each other’s point of view,” the statement said.

Minister of State Khar aired ‘serious concern’ over recent militant incursions from across the border with Afghanistan into Pakistan that led to loss of innocent lives. He also met Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and other senior civil and military officials.

But there was no official word on his interaction with military officials.

Kabul’s protest

Afghanistan on Monday complained to Pakistan about ‘its shelling of Afghan villages’, soon after an assault by Pakistani forces drove militants across the border.

The two sides blame each other for failing to crack down hard enough on militants along a porous border across which insurgents move freely. The fighting threatens to raise tensions as the US prepares to announce a gradual withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan next month.

An Afghan ministry statement said Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul spoke to the Pakistani ambassador over shelling by the Pakistani military of villages in the Sarkano district of Kunar province, close to the border, earlier on Monday.

“The foreign minister expressed the Afghan side’s concern for the shelling of Afghan villages by Pakistani artillery … and conveyed the Afghan government’s request for such shelling to stop,” the statement said.

“The recent shelling has caused casualties among Afghan civilians,” it said, without providing more details.

Additional input from Reuters

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Cautious
    Jun 21, 2011 - 8:54AM

    You have proven to be a two faced ally and when your not trusted by anyone no one wants you to be a broker – it’s that simpleRecommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 21, 2011 - 8:57AM

    “Pakistan on Monday sought ‘greater transparency and clarity’ from the United States in its plans to reach out to the Afghan Taliban in a move that indicates Islamabad’s unease”

    I have been demanding and called anti Pakistan, for demanding the same from our army/ISI about the presence of OBL in an army base for several years. Unless Pakistan practices not greater but any “transparency and clarity” what right do we have to demand that from the others? Pakistan seeking truth from the other is not even funny.Recommend

  • Jun 21, 2011 - 8:59AM

    As per the policy of US imperial hawks Taliban (real ones and not TTP) will be played against Pakistan. Khar being a popular front for US policy in Pakistan is further aggravating the situation by spreading discontent between Pakistan and Taliban. I hope Taliban understand the US designs and decide to turn table on US.

    If you recall when the pipeline deal didnt went to US company(collapse of enron) and neo-cons came into power there was mass propaganda using fake videos, defamatory articles in all over the world maligning Taliban. Pakistan army is in same place right now since they decided to not serve US policies and ruin the country.Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Jun 21, 2011 - 9:13AM

    Enough of Afghanistan! I really hope this time we are left out in the cold. Last time, when we were part of the deal (1988), we saw unmitigated disaster and ill will for Pakistan. Dear Generals, 70% Pakistanis don’t have clean drinking water, only 52% of our children go to school (Sri Lanka, India, BD are all above 90%)…….can you please just forget about strategic depth, go back to your barracks, and let the rest of us solve our domestic problems? Is that too much to ask for?Recommend

  • Extremely Tight Dhoti
    Jun 21, 2011 - 9:16AM

    HaHaaahaaa… Pakistan had been unnecessarily pampered by the US, now its time to show it the mirror.Recommend

  • IZ
    Jun 21, 2011 - 9:41AM

    That sound you hear is 30 years of Pakistani foreign and defence policy coming crashing down around us.Recommend

  • Tariq
    Jun 21, 2011 - 9:49AM

    One that thinks that money can do anything will do anything for money. Pakistan Army will find out that its friends the Taliban are for saleRecommend

  • Raza
    Jun 21, 2011 - 9:49AM


    You have proven to be a back stabbing opportunist. Don’t think for one minute that you will manipulate the situation in my knack of woods without my approval. Period.Recommend

  • Sameer
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:06AM

    No one trusts Pakistan anymore. Pakistan has lost the right to be at the table. Sad.Recommend

  • dr mubasher
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:11AM

    No one from Pakistan relies upon us talks. They r onle gambling to us, no doubt our polititions are equally involved. At this time our silence is mistrious.Recommend

  • Karmon ka Phal
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:13AM

    “Back stabbing opportunist”? Why is that? Did we use our military to send trained terrorists to kill your innocent civilians? What is left for us to “manipulate”? Couldn’t care less, really.Recommend

  • Shamsi Ajanee
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:19AM

    Yeh tou hona hee thaa………

    This had to happen.

    Missed opportunities, misplaced priorities is the order of the day for our country.

    “Pakistan was the only country in the world that negotiates with a gun to its own head. Our argument goes something like this: If you don’t give us what we need, the government will collapse and this might result in anarchy, and a takeover by Islamic militants. Left unstated here is the global risk these elements would pose as they would have access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.” ~ Irfan Hussain Recommend

  • Siraj Ahsan
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:23AM

    Absolutely right. We played our cards incorrectly. Now we have to sit back and hope all goes well. Since Mullah Omar is no more a friend of Pakistan.. I am sure Pakistanis dont want him to call the shots… They want Hekmetyar and Haqqani and that wont happen.Recommend

  • ashwin
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:28AM

    US of A says Pakistan supports Taliban, infact controls them.Now Pakistan says it is kept out of a peace process with Taliban.whom do we believe.Wonder what games Pakistan and USA are playing behind the curtain.Pakistanis feigning ignorance is just a cover, they are just trying to negotiate with US through Taliban,Taliban will obviously want a larger role of Pakistan, eventually Pakistan will be invited to the Table because Taliban insisted on it. So goes the story.USA wants a part of CAR resources which will take care of it’s budget deficits,India will be used as a PAWN by US to negotiate with Pakistan, in the mean while they will build US military outpost in Afghanistan to watch over China. Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:28AM

    What is being said and what is happening behind the curtains is not known! Slaves have no right to have access to information. We are always be`fooled and left in hot waters. When shall we learn? Our foreign policy has always remained total failure. Now we should devote only and only on the welfare of our country and nothing else. Building a soft and good image should be main guideline. We should stop worrying for others as others have never worried about us. We should stop to be boasting regional power, super power, Islamic power or atomic power. These themes have paid nothing except enemitees resulting into becoming target of others. We should concentrate only and only on the welfare of our 98% poor people to whom we should start behaving very humbly and keep them informed. Recommend

  • Mcdonald
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:37AM

    Sorry Guys, We don’t believe you, Plain and simple.Recommend

  • khauf.
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:38AM

    @Karmon ka Phal:
    IF pak play double game it should not be a surprise,,, u should judge your own intention.. what were u here for and what were the intentions.Recommend

  • faraz
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:47AM

    When Soviets left, we stubbornly supported Hikmetyar. 5 out of 7 Mujahideen groups wanted King Zahir Shah to lead the government, but we were blinded by the nonsensical policy of strategic depth. I wish the Afghan taliban take decisions independent of our agenciesRecommend

  • Chilli
    Jun 21, 2011 - 10:55AM

    Let US leave this region. Pakistan can show its muscle later…A land locked Afghanistan do need Pakistan at any cost.Recommend

  • Javed
    Jun 21, 2011 - 11:02AM

    Its not only the Afghan talks but we have been left out in the cold by everyone for everything. Nobody trusts us including our all weather friend. Our policy of Strategic Depth has now completely turned into Strategic DEATHRecommend

  • vasan
    Jun 21, 2011 - 11:24AM

    This is America’s “Strategic bypass” and Pakistan’s “Strategic left out”Recommend

  • HS
    Jun 21, 2011 - 11:26AM

    All foreign policy decision should be taken by parliament. One party that needs to stay in dark is GHQ for the sake of Pak ppl. Recommend

  • Jun 21, 2011 - 11:37AM

    US had attacked Afghanistan and screwed Taliban from their home. Now they have realized that US is engage with them for years and yeas and there is no way out. Beside human casualties, they are spending Billion of Dollars which is yielding nothing.

    They are far sighted and have now realized their mistake to “gracefully” withdraw from Afghanistan which is their right.

    If they have Attacked Afghanistan signle handedly or with the suppor of coalation forces, it is their right to undo their mistake by themselves.

    Pakistan was only their helping hand in this process. It is US who may or may not consult Pakistan on this issue. Pakistan should not feel alienated on this issue.

    However, any step forward to peace shall always be welcomed. These peace will be better for this part of the world as we have seen lot of blood shed which should be stopped at any cost.

    On the contrary Pakistan should support this peace talks atleast to gain sympathy from TTP to cool them down of their subversive activities within Pakistan.

    Hina Rabbani needs to be educated in Politics diplomacy because of her being new in this subject as she used to deal with Finance before she took over as State Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    Dr. Saleem Siddiqi

    Johannesburg – South AfricaRecommend

  • ashok sai
    Jun 21, 2011 - 11:50AM

    Continue worrying about strategic importance in neighboring countries, that is the only way to improve your rankings further in ‘Failed state index’.Recommend

  • Asad
    Jun 21, 2011 - 12:09PM

    Thumbs up if you clicked on this article to get a better look at Ms Hina Rabbani…Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jun 21, 2011 - 12:28PM

    Pakistan is investing too much in its relationship with the Taliban and Haqqani group. Time has come for the country to rise out of the strategic depth it has fallen to. Pakistan must tell the violent women hating terror groups from Afghanistan to settle their battles in their own country. Taking sides between warring factions in neighbouring countries is a recipe for disaster, the fruits of that policy being clearly visible today. Recommend

  • Farukh Sarwar
    Jun 21, 2011 - 2:04PM

    Pakistan must stop playing double games, because it has already caused so much damage to its people and other countries as well. That’s the reason why our allies have stopped trusting us anymore. Recommend

  • Javed
    Jun 21, 2011 - 3:03PM

    @Dr. Saleem Siddiqi:
    The last time we tried to gain the sympathies of TTP they came within 60 miles of Islamabad. We don’t need their sympathies but their total annihilation if we are serious in doing something positive for the country.Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 21, 2011 - 3:37PM

    At Large Pakistani People well understood that America is never trusted partner country to Pakistan but I do not know why Pakistani General /Leaders are not understanding this simple thing… Now it is useless to protest in such way beacuse neither Taliban (Mullah omar group) or American trust (due to OBL killing in Abbotabad) us.. We shoud keep quite and see what is is coming out fm the negotians between Taliban /America.. In future we should become good friend to all our Neighbours instead of looking any so called STRATEGIC DEPTH in AFGHANISTAN.. Just as we do not like that any one interevene in our matters so we should also apply same formula to others as well.. If Pakistan become Ecnomicaly powerful then no one care dare to attack us because we have already Atomic Power.. OUR GENERALS /LEADERS SHOULD LEARN LESSON FM CHINA .. Respect others then you will get Respect same………. We should not follow the USA POLICY to become POWERFULL through killings other INNOCENT PEOPLE (VIETNAM, IRAQ, AFGANISTAN, PALISTINE ETC) ………………… WE PAKISTANI SHOULD LEARNS FM OUR MISTAKES………… Recommend

  • Aadersh
    Jun 21, 2011 - 4:59PM

    Whatsoever without Pakistan’s help U.S can’t make any significant progress in Afghanistan…Recommend

  • Jun 21, 2011 - 5:23PM

    double games paying off…Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 21, 2011 - 8:52PM

    America is no friend of Pakistan..but our dollar hungry politicians and generals will still lick Uncle Sam’s boots..shame on them…Recommend

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