Afghanistan says ready to work for peace without Pakistan help

Published: March 27, 2013
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Afghan national flag. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Afghan national flag. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

KABUL: Afghanistan is shocked by Pakistan’s “complacency” in the nascent Afghan peace process and is ready to work without Islamabad’s help on reconciliation, Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin told Reuters on Wednesday.

It was the first time Afghanistan has suggested the possibility of going it alone without its neighbour. Regional power Pakistan is seen as critical to stabilizing Afghanistan because of its long ties to insurgent groups.

Ludin also said the government would look to senior Taliban figures recently handed over by the United States in Bagram prison to urge militants to pursue peace. He did not elaborate.

Afghan officials had been pushing Pakistan hard to encourage the Taliban and other groups to join reconciliation efforts and Kabul had spoken of progress after Islamabad released some Taliban prisoners who could promote peace.

But Ludin, widely believed to shape foreign policy, told Reuters in an interview that Afghanistan had noted a shift in Pakistan’s position towards peace efforts that are gaining more urgency as foreign forces prepare to leave by the end of 2014.

“We here in Kabul are in a bit of a state of shock at once again being confronted by the depth of Pakistan’s complacency, we are just very disappointed,” he said.

“But what has happened in the last few months for us, (we)see that Pakistan is changing the goal post every time we reach understanding.”

Afghanistan also said it had cancelled a military trip to Pakistan due to “unacceptable Pakistani shelling” of the country’s mountainous eastern borderlands.

More than two dozen Pakistani artillery shells were fired into Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar on Monday and Tuesday. The cancellation of the trip and days of angry diplomatic exchanges have placed further strain on a fraught relationship.

Afghanistan expressed its concern about what it called Pakistan’s attempt to sideline President Hamid Karzai’s government to US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Kabul this week, said Ludin.

The deputy foreign minister, who is closely involved in peace efforts, said Afghanistan insisted that its High Peace Council, formed by Karzai, should spearhead any peace efforts.

Ludin said Pakistan had been trying to get the Taliban to talk to other parties, like the opposition, something he said would reverse gains.

“Suddenly, there is a new notion of the peace process now being introduced by Pakistan and that’s ‘well why should the Taliban talk to President Karzai or the High Peace Council?'” said Ludin. “They (Taliban) should in fact talk to other political parties. That’s what they have told us,” Ludin said.

“Pakistan’s concept of the peace process is one that will reverse the achievement of the last 10 years that will negate the centrality of the Afghan state.”

Although there have been several meetings in Western capitals over the last few months in which representatives of the Taliban met Afghan peace negotiators, there are no signs of any breakthrough.

Renewed tensions

Karzai is due to visit the Gulf Arab state of Qatar soon to discuss the opening of a Taliban office that could be used for peace contacts in the future.

Kabul has long been suspicious of Pakistan’s intentions, accusing it of harbouring the Taliban leadership in the city of Quetta, and using militants as proxies to counter the influence of rival India in Afghanistan.

But a few months ago, Kabul was encouraged after Pakistan released some Afghan Taliban prisoners from its jails.

Now relations seem to have taken a sharp turn for the worse as the United States winds down the war, now in its 12th year.

This week, Pakistani officials accused Karzai of being an impediment to the peace process.

Ludin suggested Pakistan wanted Afghanistan to remain unstable so that militant groups allegedly backed by Islamabad would be in a position to capitalise on instability after 2014.

“What they would like is again a fragmentation of the Afghan state and going back to the drawing board so that they can have another 10 years, at least another decade, of weak, compromised Afghan state,” he said.

Ludin stressed that Pakistan was a pivotal player and Afghanistan would still welcome its support.

“The sad reality is though Pakistan still remains the most important missing link in this whole vision that we have,” he said.

Karzai had worked too hard and taken too many political risks to let Pakistan dictate how peace efforts should proceed, Ludin said.

“He (Karzai) has spent his political capital on this, he has basically staked his own political capital, his own reputation, on this and he has really mobilised the whole country, the whole region in support of the process,” said Ludin.

“It is laughable, laughable if Pakistanis think that the whole notion of the President Karzai is impediment to peace.”

Karzai’s government, he said, would now turn to some of the most senior, hardcore Taliban leaders behind bars in Bagram in its quest for peace.

“We will try to appeal to them and say: ‘Look, continued reluctance of Taliban to stay away from peace process and any buy in to this whole Pakistani design that they should not to speak to the Afghan government, is dangerous,'” said Ludin.

“Now that we have them we will see who is ready to help in this process.”

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Reader Comments (37)

  • fgfd
    Mar 27, 2013 - 4:56PM

    Pakistan does not have that much influence on talibans as earlier. Taliban knows they need money when us goes from here if they want to run afg. but Pakistan does not have money for itself then how can they help taliban.

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  • Muhammad
    Mar 27, 2013 - 5:03PM

    India and Bangladesh already hate us…now another neighboring country will start hating us?!

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  • holy me
    Mar 27, 2013 - 5:32PM

    What do you mean @Muhammad. There are heaps of Afghanis in Pakistan and they assimilate very well and as usual stab Pakistanis in the back and support India. You always hate the one you abuse and use. That is the relationship with Afghanistan.

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  • shahid
    Mar 27, 2013 - 6:03PM

    Stop transit trade.let them do it through Iran. Erect fenced wall and mine the borders with Afghanistan and then forget that Afghanistan exists.

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  • Sher Shah Suri
    Mar 27, 2013 - 6:08PM

    Pakistan should cooperate sincerely with the Democratic Goverment of Afghanistan for it’s own survival!

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  • Mar 27, 2013 - 6:11PM

    India and Bangladesh hating us doesn’t make any difference to us. For Afghans, they should go back to their own country and settle down over there once and for all instead of traveling to n fro between Jalozai camp and claiming humanitarian aid via UNHCR everytime they cross the border via Torkham. These members of “Ummah” have caused nothing more than increasing crime rate, increase in prices of food and livestock, in my city of Peshawar.

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  • Rustam Jan Baloch
    Mar 27, 2013 - 6:25PM

    This is not Karzai or his advisor. This is India talking, they have been constantly pushing this agenda on both Americans and Afghans. Indians cannot stomach the thought of Pakistan being the party to settlement. Indians have one agenda that is to use Afghanistan as second front against Pakistan. If anyone has doubts then just look at Balochistan.

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  • Reallity Check
    Mar 27, 2013 - 6:42PM

    @shahid:
    Then the so called strategic location of Pakistan that Pakistanis boast about is non-existenent.

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  • polpot
    Mar 27, 2013 - 7:34PM

    @Muhammad: “India and Bangladesh already hate us…now another neighboring country will start hating us?!”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    now???

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  • Candid1
    Mar 27, 2013 - 7:52PM

    @Reallity Check: Pakistan’s strategic location has nothing to do with Afghanistan, rather it is in relation to China. Try and live up to your name.

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  • Usman Sialkoti
    Mar 27, 2013 - 7:52PM

    @Muhammad Bangladesh Is Not Our Neighbour,India Will Not Ever Be Pakistan’s Friend,Hmm Afghanistan Well They Need Us Not We (Karachi Port),They Are Playing In India’s Hands,Their Future is Dark Without Us :D

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  • Usman Sialkoti
    Mar 27, 2013 - 7:53PM

    @Muhammad Bangladesh Is Not Our Neighbour,India Will Not Ever Be Pakistan’s Friend,Hmm Afghanistan Well They Need Us Not We (Karachi Port),They Are Playing In India’s Hands,Their Future is Dark Without Us :Dstrong text

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  • Sterry
    Mar 27, 2013 - 8:40PM

    @Muhammad: Perhaps you don’t know that Afghanistan has always been a puppet state of the Indians so who cares what Pakistan does or doesn’t do for the Afghanis. They are by nature anti Pakistan and pro Indian. Afghanistan has to sort out its own problems and it is just a game of Afghans to blame others when they are their own worst enemies. I just think the Pak government needs to work to have all Afghanis returned to Afghanistan and build a big fence to prevent the movement of Afghanis back into Pakistan.

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  • Reallity Check
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:01PM

    @Candid1:
    Wasnt it the so called land trade route to central asia that Pakistanis always boast about. I guess like you said its due to China that Pakistan has the strategic location.

    I dunno how either of these reason means Pakistan should get handouts from the rest of the world (USA, China etc.). Only if Pakistan has something positive to offer other parties will it be treated with respect and can have some sort of mutually benificial relationship. Otherwise it will remain a puppet state forever. Getting only enough to keep it on its knees begging for more.

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  • gp65
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:07PM

    @Sterry: fyi: Afghans = people of Afghanistan. Afghanis = currency of Afghanistan. When you interchange them it is similar to interchanging the word Pakistani with the word rupee.

    Also you say Afghans have always been pro-India and anti-Pakistan. That is not a true statement though if you say that this is currently te case, it might have an element of truth in it. Perhpas you are unaware that in 1996-2001 they had a very cruel regime installed by Pakistan government. That regime was recognized only by Pakistan, UAE and KSA. No other country in the world recognized that regime. Therein lie the roots of Afghan heartburn for Pakistan. As far as India is concerned, it has built, roads, schools, hospitals. Why would such actions not create goodwill?

    @Candid1 – Billions of dollars received in the 80s were because you were Afghanistan’s neighbour – not becuse you were China’s neighbour. Same thing between 2001-2010.

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  • cautious
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:14PM

    After all the intrigue and “deep state” mentality it would appear that your going to end up with unfriendly countries on both your eastern and western borders. It’s clear that friendly rhetoric alone isn’t convincing your neighbors – time to combine friendly actions with the words.

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  • faker
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:43PM

    @Muhammad:
    Mo, nice try!

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  • Shahbaz Khan
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:44PM

    @Sher Shah Suri: Sorry? “democratic government of Afghanistan”? Which government would that be?

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  • Zalmai
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:47PM

    It is sad to see so many Pakistanis parroting the ISPR narrative devoid of introspection, reflection, objectivity and constructive criticism. Reading the views of Pakistanis makes me think that even the English medium gentry of Pakistan is self absorbed, delusional, biased and indoctrinated. Pakistan is made up of Afghans (Pashtuns) and Indians and the sooner you realize this and work towards making amendments with Afghanistan and India the better off you will be. Recommend

  • Shahbaz Khan
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:59PM

    @cautious: Your are absolutely right. High time India should back up its empty friendly rhetoric with solid actions and stop meddling in other countries’ affairs. Otherwise, all of its neighbors including Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, and Nepal will continue to hate India.

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  • Karachiwala
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:23PM

    Yeah…when you fail, blame others. or rather full fill your master wishes often (which in this case anglo-indian)

    Forget: The Afghanis always forget that the hatred element in the relationship started by AFGHANS not accepting the durand line and start poking nose in Pakistan. This nose poking got out of hand when INDIA find its new game with russia.

    Reminder: It was Pakistan 3 continous powers (liaqat ali khan- then ayub – to ZAB) all tried to have good relation with Afghans. And ask them to avoid playing indian games. But then in 1975, ZAB tired of all this sanctioned planned answer to them.

    Fact: Since almost 35 Years- from 1979 till today- We host Afghans in Our country/in our province/ in our cities and in our nieghborhoods.
    Our Tax money used hospitals are crowded with afghans- our tax money water lines were punctured- our electrictiy is getting expensive- LIVE stock smuggled-Cars smuggled-wheat smuggled-rice smuggled- MEDICINE– We even got POLIO again –and all you can name it- because afghans are busy fighting for 35 years- and we are paying the HUGE COST.

    CLOSE THE BORDER- or have them atleast pay normal duty- coz thats also free for them.
    CLOSING THE BORDER DOES NOT MEAN- THAT- NOT N INCH IS OPEN-
    CREATE BORDER CROSSING ROADS-RAILROADS-
    but this free-ride has to end-
    because clearly they don’t deserve-for sure.

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  • Truth
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:33PM

    Pakistan has problem with India, Afghanistan , Bangladesh.US and NATO ( includes most of European nations) bcoz of terrorism , still no problem with Saudi Arabia and UAE , even though their petro dollars kill Pakistani civilians. And that’s why you have problem with IRAN bcoz you kill SHIAS.
    And your so called all weather friend CHINA will never give u a penny and calls you ( Chinese Israel ).
    Now pakistan is not interested in peace and security in its own territory who can it be a partner in peace in Afghanistan or any where else in the world.

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  • ali
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:42PM

    stop trying to make afganistan another province of pakistan.

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  • Paki Whisperer
    Mar 27, 2013 - 11:09PM

    Afghanistan is turning into a mature, sophisticated and responsible nation and this turn of events makes its neighbors uncomfortable because the Afghans are sending a strong signal to all its neighbors that the days of proxies and factionalism are over. Play at your own risk is the message.

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  • Moosa Khan
    Mar 28, 2013 - 1:08AM

    Pk should have pulled out of Afg mess long time ago and closed any Afg-Ind air/land passage. Karzai is a stubborn nut case pulling Afg further into stone age whereas Ind is another cruel enemy helping him and talibans to kill innocents in Pk. Pk is paying the price from day 1 of Russian invasion by considering Afghans as their brother and providing them shelter till now.

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  • Shah
    Mar 28, 2013 - 2:19AM

    @Karachiwala: very well explained
    @Muhammad:
    Bhai jan i think u hav never read da history….afghanistan is da only country which did not recognized Pakistan during 1947.

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  • True Voice
    Mar 28, 2013 - 4:52AM

    Political Leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan always reacted in immature way. In last 65 years their decisions are based on emotions not on rational thoughts…..Afghans have problem that they believe we defeat everyone and thats a proud, which cause destruction of all their lives…..while Pakistanis have problem of extending a flexible political attitude and help them as brother state…..Both countries needs to develop more and viable trust, after all…the neighbourhood is for ever…..maturity and sophistication has nothing to do…when decisions are triggered through emotions….

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  • Usman
    Mar 28, 2013 - 5:28AM

    @Karachiwala: If only I could recommend this a 1000 times. This is absolutely true

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  • Inspiration
    Mar 28, 2013 - 5:55AM

    Do not cooperate with Afghanistan. Their citizens have used and abused pakistan enough. Time to go back to your wasteland of a country. Afghans hate Pakistanis and our pushtuns have suffered the most due to afghan refugees. Being a Pakistani pushtun, I would love to see the Pak government force all refugees back to Afghanistan. Fix your own problems, good luck. Next time your country is being used as a battle ground by foreign powers like Russia, US and soon China, do not come knocking on our door. I want all of these afghans out of KP, especially the hayatabad area. Really fed up with these foreign moochers. Go back to your country and you are never welcomed again.

    PS: Afghanistan was the only country in the UN that opposed the creation of pakistan. Good luck fixing your own country without our help.

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  • Virkaul
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:01AM

    @shahid: This attitude is not right as it smells of master-slave relationship. We all need to live like good matured neighbors like they have in Europe. It is time to dismantle boundaries and not erecting fences or stopping transit trade. One needs to do some introspection whether there were flaws in Pak policies. Did they play a double game to control and make money at the same time?

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  • Virkaul
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:06AM

    @Usman Sialkoti: It is everyone’s right to have his own perception. If yours are weird such as these, you are entitled to have them

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  • Nauman
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:11AM

    Karzai is a self delusional maniac and his government is full of the same. How can this maniacal bunch hold any credibility after repeatedly biting the hand that is feeding them, protecting them and recivilizing them ( the US, that is).
    India shuld feed its 400 million the second meal daily before taking up road building projects in Afghnistan.

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  • Virkaul
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:13AM

    @Zalmai: ‘On target’! Fake Identities don’t last long. Implosion is inevitable if you deny the truth.

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  • Mar 28, 2013 - 10:11AM

    @holy me: I completely agree with you. Afghanistan is the country that voted against our membership of the United Nations. We are a safe haven and harbor for 2 to 3 million refugees and yet they never abide by small courtesies in a foreign country.

    Ever since we got our Independence the Afghans have never wanted peace with us and have always been at the beck and call of the Indians who have an untiring influence over them. This new complaint must be at the behest and prompting of the Indians who are bespoiling the Afghans behind the curtains. The Indians who settled there have acquired the traditions of the Afghans and have become a part of that society. (Read Anwer Mooraj’s article “Are the Americans really pulling out,” which appeared in this newspaper on March 24, 2013). Salams

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  • Abu Moatasim
    Mar 28, 2013 - 1:26PM

    Unity between Muslims in Afghanistan & Pakistan is a must. This unity can keep foreigners, Indians or westerners at bay. Disunity provides space for these invaders.

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  • Gulam Rasool "Kuldeep sharma"
    Mar 28, 2013 - 2:19PM

    @Abu Moatasim There are mulim Indians too. By the way why between muslims? why not bw Humans ?

    Gulam Rasool”Kuldeep sharma”
    New Delhi

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  • Zalmai
    Mar 29, 2013 - 12:17AM

    @Inspiration

    You forget that all Pashtuns are Afghans and you as a Pakistani Pashtun are relegated to the fringes of Pakistani society where you are ruled by Punjabis. Pashtuns still live under colonial laws like FCR in their reservation called FATA, where they are treated like third class citizens. Punjabis think of you like they think of Baloch and Bangalis, which is to say as inferior, yet you still talk in your masters’s voice. You have been trained well by the colonial Punjabis.

    ET: Please publish my posts and allow a dissenting voice to the clamor of Pakistanis.

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