News / Asia

Pakistan Envoy Seeks to Ease Tensions with Afghanistan

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's adviser on foreign affairs, speaks during a news conference in Kabul Jul. 21, 2013.
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's adviser on foreign affairs, speaks during a news conference in Kabul Jul. 21, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan has pledged to support Afghan peace efforts using “some influence and contacts” it has with Taliban rebels. But during his day-long visit to Kabul on Sunday, Islamabad’s new foreign policy chief denied allegations Pakistan is seeking Afghanistan’s breakup or a power-sharing role for the Taliban after international forces leave the war-ravaged country.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, traveled to Kabul in a bid to ease bilateral tensions and renew efforts to start peace talks between Afghan and Taliban representatives.

Aziz spoke to reporters after meeting Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul.

“I have brought here a message of cordiality and goodwill from Pakistan. The new government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is deeply committed to strengthening Pakistan’s fraternal ties with the Afghan people. The main purpose of my visit is to convey a formal invitation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to President Karzai to visit Pakistan," he said.

The senior Pakistani advisor's visit came just days after the Taliban closed its newly opened political office in the Gulf state of Qatar following objections from Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. They established the facility as part of a U.S. plan to engage the Taliban in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process before most American and NATO forces leave the country by the end of next year.

President Karzai accused the United States and neighboring Pakistan of allowing the Taliban to set up a government-in-exile and refused to send his peace negotiators to Qatar.

The strong reaction grounded the talks before they could even begin. Afghan officials also alleged that the Taliban office was part of a plot by either the United States or Pakistan to break up Afghanistan on ethnic lines.

Washington rejected the allegations as “nonsense.”  Pakistani diplomat Aziz, during his visit to Kabul, also denied Islamabad was trying to impose its own solution to end the Afghan war.

“There is no point in our discussing one system and another because it is not for us - it is for Afghans themselves to decide what system and what kind of post-2014 arrangements they would like to have.  So, there is no question of our making any proposals or suggestions in that regard," he said.

Pakistan helped the Taliban to take power in Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion ended their five-year rule in 2001. Afghan leaders suspect the Pakistani spy agency remains in contact with the Taliban insurgency in a bid to influence the peace efforts and promote the Islamist movement.

Aziz said that Pakistan facilitated travel of Taliban representatives to the Qatari capital of Doha at the request of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, which is tasked to promote the political reconciliation. At the council’s request, he said, Pakistan also released 26 Taliban detainees toward the end of last year and is willing to take such steps in future if asked.

“Obviously, we have some contacts with the Taliban because of the past but we don’t control them. So in future also if to the extent we are requested we can play the same role but at the appropriate time and in consultation with the other interested parties," he said.

Sartaj Aziz however, emphasized that it is for Afghans themselves to make the peace process successful.  Aziz said he hoped that President Karzai’s proposed visit to Islamabad will further help ease tensions and deepen political, economic as well as trade cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
July 22, 2013 12:34 AM
Our Cold War policies concerning the region have made the emergence of an ISI cum Taliban - ruled and China-mastered Greater Pakistan that will include the southern 60 % of Afghanistan inevitable. Only a sincerely coordinated plan of joint action by the US, India and Russia could be the remedy. Faster, Please, ... before it is too late.

by: Wilf Tarkin
July 21, 2013 8:01 PM
Why would the Afghan government think that Pakistan is hostile to them, just because Pakistan is conducting a covert war against Afghanistan, and the Haqqani network, the outfit carrying out the most brazen attacks in Afghanistan, is run by the Pakistani secret service?
And why would they think the US and Pakistan are plotting to divide Afghanistan just because the US is desperate and would agree to any terms to secure any sort of peace, and Pakistan still wants its "strategic depth", ie a hinterland held by islamic fundamentalists to keep India off Pakistans backside?

I pity Kabul. I really do. Because I think that is what will happen: the US will twist Kabul's arm to cede strategic regions of eastern Afghanistan to the Taliban (and by extension Pakistan), in return for "peace".

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More