In response to Karzai's plea to boost peace process
Pakistan on Friday appealed to the Taliban leadership and other Afghan groups including the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to enter into direct negotiations with the Hamid Karzai-led government of Afghanistan within the framework of an “intra-Afghan process for reconciliation and peace” in the war-ravaged country.
This appeal was issued by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in response to a plea made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai this Tuesday to Pakistan “to support and facilitate our direct negotiation efforts as part of the peace process”. Emphasising the importance of Pakistan's support for the success of the peace process, he opened the endeavour to all Afghans who have remained outside the framework of the political process, including the Taliban.
The Afghan President issued this appeal after returning to Kabul from a bilateral meeting with Islamabad last week.
At the meeting, he did not mince words and sought Pakistan's help in accessing the Taliban leadership, particularly Mullah Omar who is believed to be living here and leading the Quetta Shura — the highest decision-making body of the Afghan Taliban.
Mr. Karzai had also met and sought the help of Maulana Sami-ul-Haq — regarded as the ‘father of the Taliban' as he heads the Darul Uloom Haqqani, the alma mater of the Taliban leadership including Mullah Omar — in getting them to the negotiating table.
Though the Afghan President's demand to deliver Mullah Omar to the negotiating table had been described as “preposterous and ridiculous” by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the Prime Minister's statement on Afghanistan struck a more conciliatory tone and said Pakistan was duty-bound to respond positively to the appeal issued by Mr. Karzai after his Islamabad visit.
Reiterating Pakistan's stated position that there is no military solution to the problems of Afghanistan, Mr. Gilani noted that it was “now time to turn a new leaf and open a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan”. Extending Pakistan's support for an authentic Afghan process of reconciliation, he stressed the importance of creating conditions conducive for a “grand intra-Afghan settlement, based on national reconciliation that involves the Afghan people without any distinction”.
Though Pakistan has appealed to all Afghan groups to enter into direct negotiations with the Karzai dispensation, the Prime Minister's statement flags only two by name: the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami — both mujahideen groups jointly promoted by Washington and Islamabad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.