Pakistan and the United States have agreed to speed up efforts to facilitate a peace deal in Afghanistan by next year before hundreds of thousands of foreign troops pull out from the war-ravaged country.
The agreement came about during meetings between President Barack Obama’s point-man for Pakistan and Afghanistan James Dobbins and Pakistan’s senior civil and military authorities on Monday, officials said.
Dobbins – who travelled to Islamabad ahead of a crucial visit by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington later this month – held formal discussions with PM’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
He separately met with army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
The focus of his interactions was to explore options to revive the stalled peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, a foreign ministry official told The Express Tribune.
The recent release of Mullah Omar’s former top lieutenant Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar also came up for discussion and the two sides pored over his possible role in breaking the deadlock in the fledgling Afghan peace process.
According to an official release issued by the foreign ministry, Dobbins and Aziz exchanged views on the Afghan peace process as well as on issues related to post-2014 Afghanistan.
“During the meeting, matters relating to Pakistan-US relations and the situation in the region were discussed. The two sides focused on preparations for the prime minister’s visit to Washington later this month,” it added.
In his meeting with the interior minister, Dobbins discussed matters of mutual interest, including the geo-political situation in the region.
Chaudhry Nisar expressed satisfaction on the current Pak-US relations saying that Islamabad intends to further strengthen its relations with the US based on transparency, mutual interest and understanding, according to the official statement.
The meeting discussed Premier Nawaz’s US trip and both sides felt that this visit was of prime significance and would set the trends for future relations between the two countries, it added.
Issue of cross-border militancy on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border was also discussed in the meeting and it was agreed to address this issue on a collaborative basis.
Chaudhry Nisar, the statement said, stressed that it was essential to have peace and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan and both countries would have to go beyond the irritants to build good relations.
He discussed with Dobbins the latest developments on the peace initiatives carried out by the Pakistan government in light of the resolution passed by a recent all parties conference and situation arising in the region before and after December 2014.
Issues relating to the Strategic Dialogue in context of counter-terrorism were also discussed in the meeting.
The minister underlined the importance of institutional cooperation between the two countries in capacity building of its law-enforcement agencies.
President Obama’s aide said Pakistan could benefit from the institutional cooperation between the two countries on security-related issues. He also appreciated Pakistan’s sincere efforts for establishing peace in the region and emphasised the importance of close cooperation between the two countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2013.