Normalising ties: Kabul yet to reciprocate Islamabad’s efforts

Published: September 14, 2015
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. PHOTO: REUTERS

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan is not forthcoming about its response to Pakistan’s efforts to normalise relations between the two neighbours and revive the stalled reconciliation process, officials said on Sunday.

Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had travelled to Kabul on September 4 to discuss the possibility of restarting the ‘Murree process’ with President Ashraf Ghani. The Afghan leader reportedly assured Aziz that he would consider Pakistan’s proposal and would get back to Islamabad after consultations with other parties.

“We are still waiting for their (Afghanistan) positive response,” said a senior Pakistani official, who is familiar with the development.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, also admitted that Pakistan was not getting encouraging signals from Afghanistan, despite the understanding reached during the Aziz’s visit, Kabul had yet to stop the blame game.

The two countries had agreed to restore mutual trust and stop the blame game following Aziz’s visit to Kabul earlier this month.

The official told The Express Tribune that Pakistan will not lose its patience as it strongly ‘believes that blaming each other’ will not serve the purpose of either side. He made it clear that peace process was the only way forward but added that it was for the Afghan government to decide what approach they would adopt to end years of unrest in the war-torn country.

The official said Aziz during his visit told the Afghan government that Pakistan was ready to facilitate the resumption of reconciliation process but for that Kabul had to make the first move.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been strained by a recent wave of terrorist attacks in Kabul.  The Afghan government blamed the Pakistani security establishment for the surge in attacks through the Haqqani network, a charge Islamabad has strongly rebutted.

The Afghan president had recently said he would no more ask Pakistan to assist in talks with the Taliban and instead his government itself will pursue the negotiations.

During the Defence Day celebrations last week, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif also attempted to reach out to Afghanistan against the backdrop of current hiccup in ties.

General Raheel said Pakistan made concerted and sincere efforts for bringing peace in Afghanistan but certain inimical forces were bent upon undermining the country’s efforts. Pakistan hosted the first-ever direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives in July in a significant development that rekindled hopes for an elusive peace deal.

The second round, however, had to be cancelled at the 11th hour following the announcement of death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar.

The official said Pakistan was ready to revive the Murree process provided Afghanistan showed its willingness.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th,  2015.

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