News / Asia

Pakistan Pledges Support for Afghan-Taliban Peace Talks

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center right, talks with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while they inspect a guard of honor in Kabul, Afghanistan, in Nov 30, 2013.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center right, talks with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while they inspect a guard of honor in Kabul, Afghanistan, in Nov 30, 2013.
In his first visit to Afghanistan since he took office in June, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Saturday promised to support Afghan President Hamid Karzai's efforts to seek peace and reconciliation with the Taliban. 

Sharif’s visit to Kabul came only days after a senior delegation from the Afghan Peace Council visited Islamabad to discuss the peace process and visit Afghan Taliban prisoners in Pakistan.  In the wake of that meeting, Pakistan released three Taliban commanders—including a close aide of Mullah Omar, a move seen as an effort to encourage negotiations in Afghanistan.

Following talks, Sharif promised that his civilian government would maintain friendly relations with its neighbors--including Afghanistan, and will play a neutral position in Kabul’s effort to make peace with the Taliban.  

“A peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s vital interest,” Sharif said, stressing that peace and stability in and with Afghanistan is key to a “peaceful and prosperous neighborhood.”

NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan ends in December 2014, and most observers believe Pakistan stands to play a key role in advancing a political solution to the 12-year-old Afghan conflict.

But skeptics in Kabul question Pakistan’s ability to maintain neutrality.   Afghans have long accused Pakistan of fueling instability in Afghanistan, supporting the Afghan insurgents and giving them safe havens in the country’s tribal areas.   

Pakistan rejects these allegations, and on Saturday, Sharif said he would encourage a meeting between members of an Afghan peace council and former Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was released from Pakistani jail last September.  

Islamabad’s former Ambassador to Kabul, Rustam Shah Momand, believes that Sharif’s visit has reassured Karzai of Pakistan’s sincerity in the Afghan peace process and its willingness to play a positive role in it.

“Peace in Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan,” Mohmand said. “Security in Afghanistan will benefit Pakistan the most, and insecurity in Afghanistan will harm Pakistan the most.”

Ghafoor Liwal, Director of the Afghan Center for Strategic and Regional Studies, believes that Nawaz Sharif has visited a Kabul that is much changed.

“The political environment in Afghanistan is no longer the same as it was during the 90s,” Liwal said. “Afghan people’s perceptions about Pakistan have changed a great deal. Back in the 90s, Pakistan was viewed as the center of Islam by most Afghans, whereas now Pakistan is more viewed more as a potential adversary by most Afghans, [rather] than an ally.”

Some experts believe that Pakistan’s history of conflict resolution efforts in Afghanistan during the early 90s--and again with the Taliban regime in late 90s--could be an asset in the current peace and reconciliation process.

Who has the final say?

A question remains, however, as to how much autonomy Sharif, a civilian leader, has to make important foreign policy decisions, particularly regarding Afghanistan.  Many believe that any decisions made by Sharif will have to be approved by Pakistan’s strong military.

“Pakistan’s military plays a vital role in sustaining the country’s unity against a rival India and other powers in the region and without doubt the military will continue to have that dominance in the future as well,” said Alam Payand, director of the Middle East Study Center at Ohio State  University.

That said, Payand believes that military can only go so far.  “Soldiers cannot run the economy nor can they do other vital national tasks that civilian administration can, and I think Pakistan’s military has realized this,” he said.

You May Like

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursionsi
X
Zlatica Hoke
August 28, 2014 4:07 AM
Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursions

Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid