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

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs at Global Summit Tackle Range of Challenges

    Innovators strive to halt sexual harassment in India, improve rural health in Myanmar, build businesses in Africa

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    X
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.
    Video

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora