ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan will seek information on any contact Pakistan establishes with the Afghan Taliban as part of the reconciliation process at the Joint Commission on Peace and Reconciliation meeting here today, Afghan diplomats said.
“The Afghan delegation would like to know if Pakistan has made any headway in reaching out to the Afghan Taliban,” diplomatic sources told The Express Tribune. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin will lead the delegation in the talks while Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir will head the team of Pakistani officials. The two sides will meet to prepare the agenda for a meeting scheduled between Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai next month in Kabul, officials told The Express Tribune.
Afghanistan and Pakistan had formed a two-tier commission in April when PM Gilani flew to Kabul to persuade the Taliban to join the reconciliation process. But Pakistani and Afghan officials now admit that the reconciliation process has stalled since the commission was set up to bring Taliban to the negotiating table.
Frustration is also high in Kabul as the High Peace Council in Afghanistan has also failed to make any progress towards reconciliation, the council’s chief Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani admitted in an interaction with the media in Kabul. When Ludin came to Islamabad in early August for talks with senior Pakistani and US officials he said he had come to urge immediate steps for peace talks and ending the bloodshed. “My message today was to convey a sense of urgency,” Ludin had told reporters when he appeared before the media along with US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman and the foreign secretary. The US envoy had also attached significant importance to Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process. Pakistan had pledged its support, but so far there is no progress to report.
Both sides will also discuss mutual cooperation, disclosed an official, who will attend the meeting. Afghanistan believes that the recent tension between Pakistan and the US has negatively impacted the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Access to Taliban leaders
Afghanistan would also like access to Taliban leaders captured by Pakistan, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, revealed a senior Afghan diplomat. Baradar was nabbed by Pakistani forces from Karachi in 2010 on a tip-off by US intelligence operatives. Pakistan had given the US access to Baradar, but Pakistan has so far not allowed Afghan officials to meet the number two Taliban leader, say Afghan sources. “We want access to Taliban leaders,” said an Afghan official. “This could help take the peace process forward.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ