News / Asia

Pakistan Reaches Out to US, India, Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens as Sartaj Aziz (R), Pakistan's foreign policy chief, speaks during a joint news conference in Islamabad August 1, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens as Sartaj Aziz (R), Pakistan's foreign policy chief, speaks during a joint news conference in Islamabad August 1, 2013.
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens as Sartaj Aziz (R), Pakistan's foreign policy chief, speaks during a joint news conference in Islamabad August 1, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens as Sartaj Aziz (R), Pakistan's foreign policy chief, speaks during a joint news conference in Islamabad August 1, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s new government is reaching out to the United States, India and Afghanistan to try to improve long tense relations. A week after Washington and Islamabad announced plans to resume high-level security talks, Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz said Islamabad welcomes more Indian investment in Afghanistan.
 
Pakistan has long been accused of thwarting Indian diplomacy and investment in Afghanistan as part of a strategy to limit New Delhi’s influence there. Officials in India have alleged militant attacks on their diplomatic missions in the country are plotted across the border in Pakistan.
 
But in an interview with VOA, Aziz said Islamabad is welcoming India’s outreach because it will help ensure a stable and united Afghanistan.
 
“India’s assistance to Afghanistan in the past to help build their infrastructure and some training remains important and I hope they will continue to do that,” said Aziz.
 
Such statements are rare for senior Pakistani leaders, and many in both governments remain skeptical that Islamabad is open to increased Indian engagement with Kabul.
 
But Aziz said his country has a vested interest in seeing a successful Afghanistan, and countries in the region should work together to support that goal.
 
Hopes pinned on talks

He said that Pakistan and the United States also have agreed the political reconciliation process in Afghanistan should be led and owned by Afghans themselves - without outside interference.
 
“But the important thing is for different Afghan groups, particularly the High Peace Council and the Taliban and some other stakeholders to talk to each other, whether they talk in Doha, or Dubai or Istanbul or anywhere, that is not so material. The Doha process actually has given the wrong connotation. Actually, the reconciliation process should go on and that is our hope now but obviously Afghanistan is getting ready for an election next April and that will obviously create some hiccups and some lull in the activity. But some contacts [with the Taliban], I think, have started in the last few weeks and let us hope they will continue,” said Aziz.
 
The long-stalled Afghan peace talks briefly appeared to be on track in June, when the Taliban opened an office in Doha, Qatar, to talk with U.S. and Afghan negotiators. But the initiative quickly fell apart after Afghan President Hamid Karzai learned insurgents were using the country’s former name and flag on their office.
 
Feeling betrayed, the Afghan leader abandoned talks and accused the United States of granting legitimacy to the insurgency.

Karzai as sticking point for Taliban
 
Sartaj Aziz suggested a major obstacle in the reconciliation process is the Taliban’s refusal to accept President Karzai and the changes to the Afghan constitution made under his leadership. He said all sides need to show more flexibility.
 
“Obviously, you see [the] Taliban have been saying that this government, this constitution is imposed by foreign powers and is not indigenous. But I think many of them realize that once they are part of the negotiating process, then they will be able to make changes if they require. So in that sense, there are some [insurgent] groups which want to talk and take part, others of course do not believe in that,” said Pakistan’s foreign policy chief.
 
Aziz said that Karzai is expected to visit Islamabad later this month and Pakistan is keen to find out how much flexibility the Afghan leader will be ready to show to jumpstart the peace process. 
   
Key role for Pakistan
 
This week, Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said Pakistan has a key role to play in supporting the Afghan peace process, calling on Pakistani authorities to facilitate direct contacts with Taliban leaders, including those detained in Pakistan’s prisons.
 
Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, a senior member of the Afghan Peace Council, told VOA he is optimistic that peace talks can resume, with Pakistan’s help. At the same time Qasimyar urged the insurgents to take part in Afghanistan’s elections next April.
 
“Time is pressing, that is for sure. But our endeavor, our effort will be continuing and may be gaining more momentum and strength towards bringing a peace. This election is a good chance, a historical opportunity for our all opponents to join the democratic process, the election process to come and have candidates for the presidency, and I am sure if they get the required vote, everybody will obey that.”
 
On Tuesday, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar rejected participating in the polls, calling the election "a waste of time." The militants also have stated in recent days they will not compromise on the flag and the name of their political office in Doha, further casting doubt on an Afghan peace effort still struggling to get started.

Click here for a transcript of Ayaz Gul’s full interview with Sartaj Aziz.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid