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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs