Despite a slew of public accusations by senior Afghan officials, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on foreign affairs and national security Sartaj Aziz has no plans to cancel his upcoming visit to Kabul.
Amidst heightened diplomatic tensions, Aziz says the visit will go ahead as planned and that the dates for his trip are expected to be finalised “after both sides reach a consensus on issues for discussions.”
Talking to The Express Tribune, Aziz said officials from the two countries were discussing the agenda for his visit and while the Afghan government had shared some details of the issues they wanted to take up during the visit, Pakistan had also conveyed its proposals for discussions.
The proposed visit is being seen by both Afghan and Pakistani diplomatic sources as a means of achieving a ‘breakthrough’ to ease diplomatic tensions. Afghan sources reveal that their ambassador to Pakistan Umer Daudzai is presently in Kabul to coordinate Aziz’s visit.
Pakistan agreed to send Aziz to Kabul this month following Prime Minister Nawaz’s second phone call in a week to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The back-to-back contacts between the two leaders are seen as a positive development which may lead to a revival of high-level contacts between the two neighbours.
In Kabul, the official Afghan news agency had earlier reported that Premier Nawaz had invited President Karzai to visit Islamabad and had proposed to send his advisor Sartaj Aziz, to work on a wide-ranging agenda for Karzai’s visit to Pakistan.
According to sources, the understanding was that Aziz would proceed to Kabul after Nawaz Sharif’s first official visit to China concludes on Monday (today).
The already tense relations between the two countries touched their lowest ebb after Kabul claimed that Pakistan had allegedly proposed the cessation of some provinces to the Taliban.
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Ershad Ahmadi had claimed that Aziz had floated the power-sharing concept between the Taliban and the Afghan government during his meeting with the Afghan ambassador. Aziz avoided comment on the Afghan claims, saying instead that the foreign office had already issued a statement in this regard.
The alleged proposal was seen by Afghan officials as an interference which, according to them, could stoke the tense diplomatic relationship already strained by cross-border attacks, alleged construction on the Afghan side of the border by Pakistan, complaints about Islamabad’s failure to help in the reconciliation process, and Pakistan’s role in the opening of the Taliban’s Qatar office.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2013.
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Talks should be between the Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban without interference form the US, Pakistan, India, China etc. The talks should focus on the Taliban being enabled to join the Political process and contest upcoming elections. If the Taliban win elections they are at liberty to amend the Constitution. Given Guns, anybody can terrorize the neighborhood and claim to represent one and all, elections are definitely a better way to gauge popularity. It is for the Afghan people to decide who are their true friends and enemies and who they collaborate with to pull their country out of the quagmire. The Afghan people may be backward or clannish but are smart enough to know who is sponsoring violence there. Let the Afghan people sort out their own problems without external interference.
Sartaj Aziz is a seasoned diplomat. He must desist from making loose comments like suggesting Afghan power sharing with Taliban. Instead, the govt must fight sectarian, regional and political violence at home which claims dozens of lives everyday. Pakistan must review it's policy of differentiating 'good' and 'bad' Taliban as they are same.
So are Pakistani newspapers now permitted into Afghanistan? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ two brotherly islamic countries:)