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 Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    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.