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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.