Pakistan on Thursday appealed to the Afghan Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan to recognise President Ashraf Ghani’s government, in the latest overture to prove its seriousness about forging a peace deal in the war-torn country.
Briefing the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee at the Parliament House, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry called on the Afghan Taliban to renounce violence and join the national mainstream.
Aizaz told the panel presided over by Nuzhat Sadiq that Pakistan had asked Kabul not to allow insurgents to take control of the country. He said Islamabad had conveyed a clear message to the insurgents to halt violence.
However, questions are being raised over whether Pakistan has any influence left over the Taliban as the group recently contradicted a statement made by Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that Islamabad facilitated a meeting between Taliban representatives and Afghan government officials in Urmuqi, China.
Read: Strange bedfellows: Afghan Taliban seek Iran’s support against Da’ish
The Taliban expressed ignorance about the reported meeting and clarified that only their political office in Qatar was conducting such interactions.
Aziz had said another such meeting was being planned between the Taliban and Afghan government officials.
Pakistan rejects Afghan allegations against ISI
Even as Pakistan was facilitating the talks, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security accused its Pakistani counterpart Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of being behind the recent attack on the Afghan parliament. Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah, however, rejected the Afghan allegations.
“We reject these allegations. Such allegations have been levelled against ISI and its officials in the past as well,” he said.
Read: Senior Afghan Taliban leader killed in Peshawar
Pakistan is a well-wisher of Afghanistan and is committed to relations with Afghanistan, he said adding that both sides have been interacting at the highest level. “We have said in the past and I wish to reiterate that enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan. One of the principles of our relations with Afghanistan is that we will not allow our soil to be used against each other,” Qazi insisted.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2015.