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

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

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