The government of Afghanistan has welcomed the initiation of dialogue between the Pakistani government and Taliban mediators, and expressed hope that Islamabad would extend its help in the Afghan reconciliation process.
Negotiators nominated by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met in Islamabad on Thursday for the first time and emphasised that “both sides should halt activities which could damage peace talks.” Both sides also agreed to hold talks within the parameters of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Afghan Foreign Ministry’s acting spokesman, Ahmed Shakib Mustaghni told reporters in Kabul, “We welcome the peace process and beginning of talks in Pakistan.” He added his country was hopeful that Pakistan will also cooperate with Afghanistan to initiate its peace talks with the Afghan Taliban as well.
“We have always insisted that for peace to prevail in the region it is not only important for Pakistan to start talks with the Taliban but it is also important for Afghanistan that Pakistan extends sincere cooperation in beginning talks in Afghanistan,” Shakib said.
Meanwhile, the Afghan High Peace Council also welcomed talks between Pakistan and TTP and urged the Afghan Taliban to follow in the footsteps of Pakistani Taliban and start talks with Afghan peace negotiators.
“We welcome the beginning of the peace process and wish for its success,” senior member of the High Peace Council, Habibullah Fauzi told The Express Tribune via phone from Kabul on Friday.
“The peace council wants Afghan Taliban to come to the negotiation table and resolve differences through dialogue as Afghans are fed up with the war and bloodshed,” maintained Fauzi, who served as a senior Afghan diplomat in Islamabad during the Taliban rule.
Fauzi added peace in both countries is in the interest of the region especially when foreign troops are working on an exit from Afghanistan.
In response to a question about Pakistan’s role in the Afghan reconciliation process, Fauzi said Afghans believe Pakistan has a very important role in the matter.
“President Hamid Karzai and the High Peace Council have always attached importance to Pakistan’s key role in Afghan peace,” he stated.
The peace council’s spokesperson, Shahzada Shahed, also reiterated his government’s stance and urged the Afghan Taliban to take heed from the Pakistani Taliban.
“The Afghan Taliban should have courage and show readiness for talks with the Afghan government and the High Peace Council,” he told the country’s media personnel.
Afghan Taliban have so far refused to talk to President Karzai’s government stating he has no power to take independent decisions.
On Thursday, they rejected a New York Times report which suggested talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul regime have begun and are currently under way in an undisclosed location.
“We reject the false New York Times report and believe it to be a propaganda effort to malign the Islamic Emirate,” Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2014.
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