With a new government at the helm of affairs in Islamabad, members of the Afghan High Peace Council are confident in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ability to play a crucial role in brokering a peace deal.
“We are hopeful that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will help in promoting the peace process in Afghanistan,” Qazi Amin Waqad, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council said on Sunday.
Talking to The Express Tribune from Kabul, Waqad disagreed with President Hamid Karzai, saying that “dividing Afghanistan has never been Pakistan’s policy.”
“We should not doubt Pakistan’s intentions because this leads to mistrust. Instead we need to bridge the trust deficit,” he said.
The comments come amid accusations against Pakistan by Karzai that Islamabad had floated a proposal to share power between his government and the Taliban.
Recounting Karzai’s accusations Waqad said, “I was disappointed at Karzai’s remarks. Afghanistan has neither been divided in the past nor will it be in the future,” he said.
He said that the peace council attaches hopes on Nawaz Sharif to once again play role for Afghan peace and reconciliation.
“I still remember Nawaz Sharif’s help in brokering the Islamabad Peace Accord. He had handed over his office to senior Jehadi leaders for 12 days in 1993. Then, Nawaz Sharif provided his special plane to the Jehadi leaders to fly to Saudi Arabia for sealing the agreement there and performing Umra,” recounted Waqad.
The peace accord was signed during Nawaz’s first term in office, and led to the formation of an interim government headed by Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Waqad hoped that Sharif could help bring President Karzai and the Taliban leader Mulla Omar, to the table.
“We should not be disappointed. Both sides should focus on trust building as reconciliation in Afghanistan is in the interest of both the countries,” the Afghan leader said.
Pakistan’s interest in peace
Afghan political analysts are also optimistic about Nawaz Sharif’s possible role in the elusive Afghan peace process.
A senior Afghan analyst, writer and former minister Dr Farouq Azam says that the new premier was well versed in Pak-Afghan relations. “This in-depth knowledge is an asset,” he told The Express Tribune from London.
“Pakistan needs to take bold and determined steps, convince the Americans for peace in the region and through the US take on board the Afghan government because peace is vital for all,” Azam added.
He said it was now time for Nawaz Sharif to re-shape Pakistan’s foreign policy and initiate a comprehensive reform of his country’s relationship with Afghanistan.
“It is a positive sign and there is hope that Pakistan will take the initiative in ending the on-going war in both countries.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.