Afghan peace process: Pakistan advises patience amid Doha deadlock

Urges stakeholders to ‘engage constructively’ to break the stalemate in talks.

Our Correspondent July 12, 2013
Foreign office spokesperson Aizaz Chaudhry. PHOTO: APP/FILE


Pakistan on Thursday urged all stakeholders in Afghanistan to ‘engage constructively’ to break the deadlock on peace talks after the Taliban stopped using their Doha office to protest the removal of the group’s insignia from the facility.

At his weekly news briefing, foreign ministry spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry told reporters that reconciliation was the only way to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, and called for ‘patience and perseverance’.

“There will be challenges [like this one]… but we need patience and perseverance in the larger interest of peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

“All stakeholders in the Afghan peace process need to engage constructively.”

Earlier this, representatives of the Afghan Taliban announced they would distance themselves from the Qatar initiative. The group’s office in Doha was meant to serve as a venue for talks between its representatives and a Karzai-appointed peace council.

Although it was set up amid much fanfare, the Qatar process hit roadblocks immediately after the Afghan president Hamid Karzai refused to participate in talks due to differences over the nature of the office. Karzai has also criticized recent US attempts to open separate peace talks with the Taliban.

According to a recent report by The New York Times (NYT), Karzai’s souring relationship with Washington has led President Barack Obama to consider withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan next year, rather than sticking with current plans for a long-term US presence.

In the report, published on NYT’s website on Monday, the newspaper cites unnamed American and European officials as saying Obama has become ‘increasingly frustrated’ with negotiations with the Afghan president, resulting in the US leader giving “serious consideration to the zero option.”

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry spokesman also rejected Afghan allegations that Pakistan was instigating an insurgency in the Nangarhar province.

“We have seen a series of allegations leveled by Afghan leaders and officials as reported in the media. Pakistan has responded to some allegations but we generally exercise restraint to avoid tension s in our relations with Afghanistan. Pakistan wants to see peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he stressed.

“We are sincere in our approach and our efforts, and we hope that our sincerity will be reciprocated. Our leadership, all state institutions and the people of Pakistan want to see a united, prosperous and stable Afghanistan,” Chaudhry added.

Answering questions, the spokesman refused to comment on the leaked findings of the Abbottabad Commission. When asked to comment on the conclusions of the commission which suggest that the US Embassy compromised diplomatic norms and traditions, Chaudhry replied: “We are already engaged with US government on several issues of mutual concern. As regards this particular report that you are referring to, we have not initiated any action as we are not handling this report.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.