Foreign Office briefing : ‘Afghan reconciliation process not abandoned’

Published: December 9, 2011
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Afghans mourn during a funeral ceremony for the victims of Tuesday’s bomb attack against Shias in Kabul. PHOTO: FILE

Afghans mourn during a funeral ceremony for the victims of Tuesday’s bomb attack against Shias in Kabul. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: After weeks of rhetoric, Pakistan, though still angry over the US-led Nato airstrikes, attempted on Thursday to reassure the world that it is not walking away from the Afghan reconciliation process.

Islamabad, which has taken a host of retaliatory measures in the aftermath of Nato attacks, stayed away from the recently held key international conference in the German city of Bonn to draw up a roadmap for Afghanistan.

However, at the weekly news briefing, the foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters that Islamabad boycotted the Bonn conference ‘in the larger interest of Pakistan.’

“Not attending the Bonn Conference should not be taken as our total disassociation from our aspiration to promote peace and security in Afghanistan,” added Abdul Basit, the foreign ministry spokesperson.

“Peace and stability in Afghanistan is indeed in our own larger national interest and Pakistan will continue doing whatever it can to facilitate the process of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.”

His remarks appear to suggest that the government is willing to show flexibility in an effort to defuse tensions with the US and Afghanistan over the Nato strikes.

In reply to a question, the spokesperson dismissed the notion that bilateral ties between Pakistan and the US were on the verge of breaking point.

“Not at all. Obviously, we have bilateral ties with the US and following the November 26 event, we are in the process of reviewing the contours of our relations,” he added.

However, he did not share a list of demands Pakistan would want the US to fulfil before the relationship was brought back on the track.

Basit said a two-day conference of envoys summoned from selected capitals was taking place on December 12 and 13 to deliberate ‘different aspects of the foreign policy.’

Pakistan’s boycott of the Bonn Conference, which was attended by delegates from 90 countries as well as representatives of the United Nations, has triggered fears that it may abandon world efforts aimed at bringing sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

Kabul attack

Regarding the attack on Shias in Afghanistan on Ashura which Lashkar-i-Jhangvi reportedly took responsibility for, Basit again demanded evidence.

“We have seen President [Hamid] Karzai’s reported remarks regarding a banned organisation. We would encourage Kabul to share evidence, if any, with us through official channels,” he maintained.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2011.

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