Afghanistan wants Pakistan to throttle the Afghan Taliban’s terror funds and deprive it of sanctuaries in Pakistan if the orthodox militant group refuses to join the long-awaited Afghan reconciliation process.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai said Kabul expects Islamabad to take practical steps in line with PM Nawaz Sharif’s recent remarks in which he publicly condemned the Taliban’s attacks as acts of terrorism.
“Remarks made by the PM Nawaz [during his recent visit to Afghanistan] had encouraged Afghans as his message was very clear that the enemies of Afghanistan are the enemies of Pakistan. We hope that Pakistan will make progress on its commitments with Afghanistan,” Hekmat Karzai said.
Hekmat, the cousin of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, was in Pakistan to co-chair a meeting of senior officials at the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process this week. He also held bilateral meetings with Pakistan and joined a trilateral sitting with Chinese and Pakistani officials.
When asked what Kabul expects Islamabad to do if the Taliban reject Pakistan’s suggestion of reconciliation, he said Afghanistan believes Pakistan can arrange direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“But in case Pakistan cannot do it, then our request to Pakistan is very clear: we want Pakistan to curb their channels of funding, destroy their safe havens and stop any other support to them,” he said.
He said he was hopeful that Pakistan would do a lot in the peace process. “Pakistan can help us in ending the war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has suffered a lot and Pakistan has also realised that this should end now,” he said.
Karzai is of the opinion that Pakistan and Afghanistan have been involved in an “undeclared war” for the past 20 years but Kabul has now opened a door to bridge the trust gap.
“An undeclared war between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been going on for 20 years. Pakistan has agreed with this concept. So the first point is that we want to begin a process with Pakistan that pushes both countries to peace and trust.
“The second point is we want peace with those groups and specific personalities who are fighting in Afghanistan and we have told Pakistan very clearly to arrange talks between those people and us,” Karzai said.
When asked whether or not Afghanistan’s longstanding complaints about Pakistan have ended, he said complaints are still there but Afghanistan had opened a new chapter in the relationship.
“We want to move forward together,” he added.
Role of China
The Afghan minister said China has promised it will help Kabul in the reconciliation process amid growing contacts between the Taliban and Chinese officials. The Taliban negotiators visited China in November and another round of their talks is also expected next month, Afghan sources said.
“China’s political support is the most important. We have requested them to help us in the peace and reconciliation efforts. We are very hopeful about their commitments and cooperation in political area,” Hekmat Karzai said.
“We need China help in the peace process. We are confident that China will honour its commitments,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2015.