Pakistan denies hidden agenda, Taliban deny talks

Published: February 1, 2012
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar adressing a joint press conference along with her Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rasool in Kabul on February 1, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar adressing a joint press conference along with her Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rasool in Kabul on February 1, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar adressing a joint press conference along with her Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rasool in Kabul on February 1, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar arrives for a meeting with Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rasool at the Foreign Ministry in Kabul on February 1, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Wednesday rejected accusations that it was secretly supporting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, while the Taliban denied plans for peace talks with the Afghan government in Saudi Arabia.

The statements came as a leaked NATO report charged that Pakistan’s security services were backing the Taliban militia, who consider victory inevitable once Western combat troops leave in 2014.

The leak was spectacularly bad timing for Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who was in Kabul for the first time since taking office last year in a bid to thaw frosty ties between the two neighbours.

“We have no hidden agenda in Afghanistan,” Khar told reporters after meeting President Hamid Karzai. “These claims have been made many, many times. Pakistan stands behind any initiative that the Afghan government takes for peace.”

The Taliban chose the same day to deny that they would soon hold talks with Karzai’s government in Saudi Arabia to end the decade-long war since they were toppled by a US-led invasion in 2001.

“There is no truth in these published reports saying that the delegation of the Islamic Emirate would meet with representatives of the Karzai government in Saudi Arabia in the near future,” the Taliban said on their website.

Afghan officials had suggested that talks in Saudi Arabia would be in addition to contacts in Qatar between the Taliban and the United States.

But it was never clear whether the Taliban, who have resisted talks with the Afghan government, or the Saudis, who have conditioned involvement on the Taliban renouncing al Qaeda, would come on board.

Taliban negotiators have begun preliminary discussions with the United States in Qatar on plans for peace talks aimed at ending the war.

But they said in their statement Wednesday that they had not yet “reached the negotiation phase with the US and its allies”.

“Before there are negotiations there should be a trust-building phase, which has not begun yet,” the statement said.

One of the Taliban’s demands is for the United States to free five of its leaders from detention in the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

The leaked NATO report – seen by The Times newspaper and the BBC – was compiled from information gleaned from insurgent detainees and was given to NATO commanders in Afghanistan last month.

The “State of the Taliban” document claims that Islamabad, via the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, is “intimately involved” with the insurgency and that the Taliban assume victory is inevitable once Western troops leave in 2014.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said “we consider any threat to Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty as a threat to Pakistan’s existence.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan need to look forward to a relationship based on trust.”

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul told the same news conference: “There will be no peace in the region if there is no serious regional cooperation.

“Pakistan plays a key role in Afghan peace process. I hope Ms Rabani’s visit is the beginning of a good relationship between our two countries.”

Kabul government officials declined immediate comment on the report.

Khar’s Afghanistan trip to ‘mark new cooperation phase’

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on a one-day visit to Kabul Wednesday aimed at warming frosty ties between the two neighbours.

“This visit will mark a new cooperation phase between the two countries,” Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai told reporters ahead of what will be Khar’s first visit to Afghanistan since taking office in July.

Kabul, which accuses Islamabad of supporting the 10-year Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, put relations on ice after the September murder of its peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani, which one Afghan minister blamed on Pakistani spies.

The Kabul government said the bomber who killed Rabbani was a Pakistani and accused the Pakistani government of hindering the investigation.

“After the death of Rabbani we boycotted some of the bilateral and trilateral meetings (including the US) with Pakistan,” a senior official in Karzai’s office told AFP.

“This visit is aimed at improving our relations as well as at resuming those meetings.”

In December, Pakistan boycotted the Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan to protest against US air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the porous Afghan border on November 26.

Khar meets her Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rasoul and Karzai amid tentative moves towards negotiations in Qatar between Washington and the Taliban, who were ousted from power by the 2001 US-led invasion.

Karzai has given his blessing to the Taliban opening a political office in the Gulf state, but is wary of being sidelined and has insisted that his government has a central role in any peace talks.

In Islamabad, foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said Khar’s talks would cover “the security situation in Afghanistan and the reconciliation process”.

“We hope the visit would further enhance mutual understanding on major issues and bring the two countries closer,” he told AFP.

Pakistani analyst Rahimullah Yusufzai said Khar’s trip was important because it is her first to Afghanistan and comes after a gap in Pakistani official visits to Kabul, the last of which were soon after Rabbani’s murder.

He said both governments “feel a bit left out” of the Qatar negotiations and “would be trying at least to find out what is happening and maybe try to coordinate their own policies accordingly”.

But he said many problems between the two countries remain unresolved, including the Rabbani assassination, adding: “I don’t expect any real breakthrough at these talks.”

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Adnan
    Feb 1, 2012 - 4:31PM

    No hidden agenda as it is very much open now


  • Pundit
    Feb 1, 2012 - 4:49PM

    The Paki agenda in Afghanistan is surely not a secret!


  • Hashmi
    Feb 1, 2012 - 5:07PM

    Who is anyone to tell us to mind our hidden or open agendas regarding our neighbours who have been unjustly occupied.


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Feb 1, 2012 - 5:36PM

    Tnose dsys of hidden agenda have gone in this information age . Only those will have freedom for it who will have command on information technology . Gilani is going to make a histry in Pakistan and he will be facilitated by all concerned .


  • Salman
    Feb 1, 2012 - 6:48PM

    US/NATO/India has turned out to be a loser in a longer run. Pakistan has played strategic game keeping future in mind. Talibans are reality and cannot be eliminated by any hi tech. No wonder US is now negotiation them.


  • Feb 1, 2012 - 8:00PM

    In fact US policy in Afghanistan has always been dubious, first fighting against alqaeda, then Afghan Talibans, then Pakistan Taliban, then trying to make Pakistan worst enemy, and now trying to negotiate with Afghan talibans and pressing Pakistan to launch offense against Taliban organizationsRecommend

  • Adnan
    Feb 1, 2012 - 8:03PM

    May Allah bless the Afghans, our brothers, with peace and prosperity! May Allah bless us Pakistanis with peace and prosperity! AMEEN!


  • SM
    Feb 1, 2012 - 9:10PM

    We Pakistanis are also well aware of the American hidden agenda in Pakistan – the ultimate disintegration of the Pakistani state. We have no doubt about this.


  • dr khan
    Feb 1, 2012 - 9:17PM

    The Karzai govt is a fail and has cemented more favorable ties with India any engagement with karzais double faced regime will yield little benefit to pakistan. Pakistans only hope is taliban, it is also supported by the large majority here. Not to mention as Muslims we are against any unjust occupation and as an Islamic nation our priorities need to be aligned with Islamic principles. We need to gain the trust of our neighbhors otherwise pakistan will become a dangerously isolated nation. We must amend our mistakes during musharrafs era of backstabbing our allies.


  • KiJ
    Feb 1, 2012 - 9:29PM

    why do these these so called leakages always happen at the time of important meetings between Pak and Afg? Any stable relationship between the two nations seem to bother the occupiers… divide and rule!


  • Feb 1, 2012 - 11:40PM

    @Hashmi: hidden agendas are not good for democracy since they are not open to public discussion and review.

    There have been many damaging examples of politicians pushing hidden agendas in Pakistan. Probably the most damaging was that of Z.A. Bhutto who twice goaded the Pakistani military into war – first upon India, then upon the Pakistani people – all to serve the agenda of evicting the military from power and putting himself at the head of the state. He succeeded but at the cost of millions of lives. All that could have been avoided had war-making powers, planning, and political agendas been more open to public review and accountability.


  • Anonymous
    Feb 1, 2012 - 11:49PM

    Our FM is no doubt a gutsy woman who can think on her feet. Her cool dissmissive response NATO’s sleazy propeganda, deliberately timed to embarrass Pakistan,was a class act.


  • jai zardari
    Feb 2, 2012 - 1:01AM

    the best foreighn minister Pakistan ever had,praaise zardari


  • Khurram
    Feb 2, 2012 - 1:02AM

    I do not believe anything until it is officially denied. Thank you Ms Khar for confirming the report.


  • Arindom
    Feb 2, 2012 - 1:03AM

    “denial” of something everybody knows is a ‘class act’??


  • Thoughtful
    Feb 2, 2012 - 2:08AM

    One cant help but note that Pakistans leadership represents the telegenic affluent ruling class. Or the mullahs. Very scant representation of the awaam


  • Noor
    Feb 2, 2012 - 10:47AM

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Wednesday rejected accusations that it was secretly supporting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, while the Taliban denied plans for peace talks with the Afghan government in Saudi Arabia.

    Who are the actual insurgents?

    US / NATO or Taliban???????????


  • Feb 3, 2012 - 1:27AM

    The United States has always encouraged good relations between all countries of the region. We have no hidden agenda in the region or in Pakistan. We were forced to secure Afghanistan from the terrorists who had made it their headquarters from which to plan and launch their attacks all over the world. Would you not agree that today, because of our combined efforts, Afghanistan is safer and in much better shape than it was a decade or so ago?

    The United States has always emphasized the strategic importance of Pakistan and held that a stable and strong Pakistan is good for the region. We understand that our relationship in the last few months has taken a few backward steps, giving the terrorists a chance to freely unleash their terror. That is the reason it is even more important we resolve our differences and get back to the task of neutralizing the militants who have made it their mission to prevent peace.

    Maj David Nevers
    DET-United States Central Command


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