‘Pakistan hopeful of Afghan peace talks’

Dialogue aimed at ceasefire before Spring Offensive

Our Correspondent March 20, 2015
Sartaj Aziz, prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is looking forward to the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, said Sartaj Aziz, prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, on Thursday.

Talking to the media after addressing a conference on Afghanistan, Aziz confirmed that a dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban was expected to start in the coming days.

Responding to a question, the adviser made it clear that Pakistan was only playing the role of a facilitator and urging all the parties to start the dialogue at the earliest.

Islamabad is believed to have played a major role in persuading the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

The Afghan government and the Taliban are said to have formed committees to conduct the first-ever face-to-face talks.

The dialogue is aimed at agreeing on a ceasefire before the Spring Offensive is launched by the Afghan Taliban in May.

The adviser said that although Pakistan was facilitating the reconciliation process, it was following a policy of non-interference in the internal matters of Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan expected the same from other regional countries to ensure that the Afghans themselves decide their destiny. Islamabad has always been sceptical of India’s increased role in Afghanistan. The capital fears that New Delhi’s growing influence in Afghanistan could prove detrimental to its national interest.

Earlier, addressing the conference on Afghanistan, Aziz said Pakistan was keen on having strong trade and economic relations with Afghanistan as a part of its policy of “peaceful neighbourhood”.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2015.


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