Pakistan endorses Karzai’s Kabul plan

The proposed peace-making plan with the Taliban was at the heart of the conversation.

Kamran Yousaf September 17, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Three major players pitted against the Taliban insurgency gathered here on Thursday for what appeared to be the first meeting in Islamabad of its kind in nine years to discuss the regional security situation.

The proposed peace-making plan with the Taliban was at the heart of the conversation between Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and US commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus.

The head of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Afghan spymaster Rahmatullah Nabil and top US intelligence officials also attended the unprecedented meeting. It was a rare occasion when top civil, military and intelligence officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US met together to discuss a host of issues related to the fight against extremism.

ISPR spokesman Major General Athar Abbas and the US embassy would not comment on the development.

A senior Foreign Office official confirmed the meeting which, according to him, took place at a local five-star hotel.

“It was very significant and unprecedented meeting,” the official added while requesting anonymity.

Military and diplomatic sources said Afghan reconciliation plan, parliamentary elections in the war-torn country, fresh offensive against Taliban and border situation came under discussion.

The Pakistan side led by General Kayani endorsed the reconciliation plan that President Karzai outlined in the London conference in January this year, aimed at wooing at least some members of the Taliban into the Afghan government fold.

However, sources said, the US side did not favour the idea. The top US commander in Afghanistan insisted on the reintegration of low-ranked members of Taliban in the first phase before making any overtures to their leaders.

The meeting also discussed the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan and called for better coordination among all sides in order to disrupt the Taliban’s plan to create law and order situation on the polling day.

The elections are scheduled for September 18.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with the Afghan president, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani assured Pakistan’s full support to the Afghan reconciliation plan.

In a statement issued here, Prime Minister Gilani told Karzai that Islamabad has always maintained that the use of force alone cannot bring peace and stability to the war-ravaged country.

“Pakistan supports the initiation of an inclusive political reconciliation process by Afghanistan and establishing of a high-level peace council to talk to the Afghan opposition groups,” the statement quoted Gilani as saying.

He said Pakistan and Afghanistan must endeavour to realise the benefits of trans-regional development cooperation, the statement added.

As soon as the composition of the peace council was finalised, Karzai informed Gilani, Kabul intends to enter into consultations with Pakistan to adopt a coordinated approach in reconciliation and rehabilitation process with Afghan opposition groups.

Both leaders agreed to strengthen the tripartite dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Isaf forces and pre-empt efforts by vested interests to poison the cordial relations between the two neighbours.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2010.


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