News / Asia

Pakistan: Informal Afghan Peace Talks Are 'A Good Start'

FILE - Afghan President Hamid Karzai leaves a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2014.
FILE - Afghan President Hamid Karzai leaves a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan says recent “informal” talks between Afghan peace negotiators and leaders of a Taliban faction are “a good start” towards seeking a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. The hope is other warring groups will join the process.

Pakistan’s foreign policy and national security advisor Sartaj Aziz says his country has long favored an “inclusive intra-Afghan” dialogue for ending the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan. He says in an interview with VOA that Islamabad has supported such efforts in the past and remains committed to promoting political reconciliation in its war-shattered neighbor.

“We have been suggesting to the Taliban through our contacts that please negotiate some reconciliation. So, these are informal contacts [and] even if they are with a few groups it is a good start. I hope it will become more serious and other groups will join it," said Aziz.

This is the first time Pakistan has directly commented on last week's meeting in Dubai between members of Afghanistan’s peace-seeking panel called the High Peace Council and a group of Taliban leaders. The insurgent delegation was led by Mutasim Agha Jan, a former finance minister during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.  Few details of the discussions have been released to the media.

Aziz reiterated that his country no longer supports any faction in Afghanistan and wants all Afghan stakeholders to be left alone to determine a solution to the crisis facing them after the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force or ISAF winds down its combat mission in December.

“Because nobody in the world, none of the Islamic countries [including] Pakistan, wants Afghanistan to get into a chaos and in large-scale fighting after the ISAF forces leave," he said.

The Dubai meeting was part of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to resume peace talks with the Taliban ahead of the April 5 presidential elections in Afghanistan.  
But the Taliban leadership says it has not authorized anyone to engage in peace talks with the Kabul government. The Taliban insisted any peace talks will be conducted through its political office in Qatar and only after all U.S.-led forces leave Afghanistan.

The Islamist movement opened its Qatar office last June under a U.S.-sponsored effort with Pakistan to help the insurgents engage in a peace process with representatives of President Karzai.

But that process immediately collapsed after the Afghan leader raised objections to any direct contacts between the U.S. and the Taliban without his supervision.  Karzai also strongly opposed the Taliban for using the name and flag of their former Afghan government for the Qatar office.   

Officials and observers in Pakistan are worried that continued Afghan instability after the departure of NATO-led forces from the country could embolden Islamist militants waging a bloody insurgency against the Pakistani state.  Riaz Mohammad Khan is a former Pakistani foreign secretary.

“Pakistan is going to face escalating cost in my view for formal or informal support from its territory to the Afghan Taliban or to any other groups that may consider its favorite such as the Haqqanis. Safe havens for insurgent groups are not and will not be confined to one side of the Durand Line [the name of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border]," said Khan.

Pakistan’s military spy agency assisted the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Most observers do not foresee the Islamist movement regaining control in the presence of a sizable trained Afghan national army and the development an international presence has brought to the country over the past decade.

Islamabad denies charges that top Taliban leaders and militants of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network are hiding in Pakistan from where they direct insurgent activities in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs