ISLAMABAD: Emphasizing the importance of Pakistan in the fragile Afghan peace process, President Hamid Karzai on Thursday said that “Afghanistan is actually holding peace talks with Pakistan and not with the Afghan Taliban.”
Karzai’s comments came at a time when his security officials are involved in harsh criticism of Pakistan, accusing the country for supporting the Haqqani Nework. Kabul blames the network for a series of recent attacks in Afghanistan, including last week’s deadly car bomb attack in Paktika province.
“Pakistan can particularly play an important role in the restoration of peace in Afghanistan. Our peace talks are in fact, with Pakistan and not with the Afghan Taliban,” Karzai told the visiting Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan, Sun Yuxi.
Sun arrived in Kabul yesterday, days after Beijing nominated him as special envoy to the war-torn country.
“Foreign factors are involved in the Afghan peace process and that is why the cooperation of Pakistan and the United States is very important,” Karzai said, according to a statement posted on the presidential website.
He praised Chinese cooperation and investment in Afghanistan, and hoped that China can play an important role in the Afghan peace process as the country is a friend of Afghanistan and enjoys good relations with Pakistan.
Karzai has welcomed the appointment of Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan, and described China as a strong friend and an important neighbouring country.
Both sides discussed China’s investment in Afghanistan and the upcoming “Heart of Asia” conference that will be held in China. President Karzai said that the new Afghan president will attend the conference.
The Chinese envoy assured President Karzai that China will support the Afghan-led peace process and that his country wants a stable and secure Afghanistan.
“We are hopeful that instead of weapons, Afghanistan will see economic development,” the statement from Karzai’s palace quoted Sun Yuxi as saying. He said Afghanistan is very important neighbouring country for China.
“China is interested to boost its role in Afghanistan,” the special envoy stated.
The Chinese envoy also met the Afghan deputy foreign minister Irshad Ahmadi and the Afghan side shared information about the Afghan presidential elections, transfer of security to the Afghan forces and the peace process.
Ahmadi lauded the role of China in stability of Afghanistan, economic cooperation and fight against terrorism and extremism.