A senior Afghan government official has said that Pakistan should first take action against groups that have ‘declared war’ on Afghanistan if it wants to play a role in the peace process.
The comment by Sayed Zafar Hashmi, the deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, came a day after Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Qazi Khailullah said Islamabad would facilitate another round of talks between Kabul and the Taliban if both sides desired.
“Pakistan should first crush those terrorist groups who have declared war on Afghanistan from Pakistan’s soil,” Hashmi told Pajhwok news agency on Saturday. “If Pakistan is ready to do so, then we will discuss the peace process.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also said on Saturday that his country wanted to bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table. Talking to journalists in Lahore, he admitted that the disclosure of Mullah Omar’s death had a ‘negative impact’ on the nascent Murree peace process.
“We had done a lot to encourage the Taliban to open talks at the request by the Afghan government. There was no need to break the news of Mullah Omar’s death as the second round of talks was scheduled to be held two days after the media broke the news,” he added.
Ghani’s deputy spokesperson said Kabul has never slammed the doors shut on talks with the Taliban. “We are willing for negotiations with every Afghan who agrees to talks within the ambit of the Afghan Constitution. But we will fight against those who prefer war,” Hashmi added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2015.