News / Asia

    Pakistan, Afghanistan Promote Stronger Ties in Effort to End Violence

    Pakistan's Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan (r) shakes hands with former Afghan President and chief of a new peace council Burhanuddin Rabbani before their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, 05 Jan 2011
    Pakistan's Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan (r) shakes hands with former Afghan President and chief of a new peace council Burhanuddin Rabbani before their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, 05 Jan 2011
    Ayaz Gul

    Pakistan and Afghanistan have recently concluded high-level talks aimed at accelerating the process of reconciliation and reintegration with Taliban insurgents to try to bring an end to the near decade-long Afghan conflict.  The United Sates, which plans a phased withdrawal of its combat troops this summer, has welcomed the increased interaction between Kabul and Islamabad, which it believes is crucial for bringing peace to Afghanistan.

    Karzai Efforting Peace with Taliban

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai is trying to make peace with Taliban insurgents who are ready to denounce violence and cut ties to terrorist groups.  He recently created a 70-member High Peace Council in which almost all sections and ethnic groups in Afghan society are represented.

    A 25-member delegation headed by council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani travelled to neighboring Pakistan this month for the first time to seek Islamabad’s cooperation for the Afghan reconciliation process.

    Members of the Afghan peace delegation held extensive discussions with top Pakistani civilian and military leaders for almost four days.  Both sides have agreed to promote the Afghan reconciliation process at a people-to-people level by holding a traditional jirga meeting.

    Pakistan Commits Support to Effort

    But a major outcome of the delegation’s visit is an agreement to create a joint governmental commission to promote the Afghan reconciliation process.

    Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says his country will support the process as long as it is led and owned by Afghans themselves.

    "They have to determine what they want from Pakistan, and Pakistan will facilitate.  They wanted a bilateral [joint commission] to oversee the whole process and Pakistan has given a nod of approval to that. So Pakistan is serious because Pakistan feels that you need more than military operations to achieve peace, you need political engagement, you need governance, you need capacity building, and Pakistan will support Afghanistan."

    Building Mutual Trust

    Pakistani and Afghan officials say their primary objective is to build mutual trust and make joint efforts to try to assure insurgent groups that U.S.-led international forces are not occupying Afghanistan.

    Afghan delegation member Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai says Afghanistan and Pakistan have stopped blaming each other for the security problems facing the two countries. Stanekzai says that in the past two years bilateral political and economic ties have improved, leading to the formation of the joint reconciliation mechanism.  

    The Afghan delegate says Pakistan’s role is important because insurgent groups fighting on both sides of the border are interlinked.

    "[Pakistan] can play a role because they are sharing a long border with Afghanistan. Those who were with Taliban they mostly had spent time in Pakistan. They (Pakistan) have their political and religious leaders, who have contact with them (insurgents). Our jihadi leaders have contact with them. I do not think that their (Pakistan) contacting them (insurgent groups) will be a difficulty, but the difficulty will that how we can build confidence to overcome the misunderstandings (among Taliban groups) that Afghanistan is not occupied."

    The insurgents' Pakistan connection

    U.S. and Afghan officials widely believe some key leaders of Afghan insurgent groups are hiding in Pakistan and have links to Pakistani militant groups and elements within the country’s intelligence network. Analysts like international relations professor Hassan Askari believe that despite pressure from the United States and other Western allies, Pakistan may not want to cut ties to some Afghan insurgent groups.

    "These ties are going to be helpful. I think the U.S. will have to reconsider its emphasis on severing all connections. Pakistan will pursue a policy that would serve its interest and on this point I think the divergence between Pakistan and the U.S will continue. It is not practical (for Pakistan) to pick up confrontation with each and every Taliban group if reconciliation is to be promoted."

    US welcomes interaction

    Coinciding with the Afghan High Peace Council’s visit was the arrival in Islamabad of the acting U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Frank Ruggiero. After meeting with leaders of the Afghan delegation and Pakistani officials, Ruggiero said Washington welcomes the increased interaction between Kabul and Islamabad to tackle the insurgency.

    "The United States has encouraged the government of Pakistan, the government of Afghanistan to increase their interactions and to improve their relationship. And from all that we have been able to ascertain from this visit and from what we are hearing back in Washington is that there has been progress in the bilateral relations."

    Despite recent violent attacks in southern Afghanistan, Ambassador Ruggiero reported progress in the military campaign against Taliban insurgents, but he acknowledged the international effort to bring peace to the country faces serious challenges.

    "As you see the increase of American forces go into these places, and southern Afghanistan has been the primary area where American forces have gone, I think overall you have seen an increased improvement in the security situation. You have started to see some enhanced levels of governance that remains, frankly, a very critical challenge for us. I mean Afghanistan is a society that suffered through 30-years of civil war, so trying to find that governance structure that can work with the Afghan security forces, the American security forces, is just a challenge."

    While the U.S special envoy and members of the Afghan peace delegation sounded optimistic about recent talks in Islamabad, it is still not clear how Pakistan will position itself to use its influence with some of the Afghan insurgent groups to bring them to the negotiating table.  But Pakistani officials have indicated behind-the-scenes work is already underway.

    NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora