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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

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