Pakistan is not backing the Afghan Taliban and it is up to the people of Afghanistan to decide whether the militants should be part of any future government in Kabul, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said.
It is up to the Afghans to decide the shape of the future dispensation in their country and Pakistan will only support any political reconciliation process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, Mr. Gilani said during an interview with Al-Jazeera.
Asked about global concerns that Pakistan is helping the Taliban in its efforts to return to power in Afghanistan, Mr. Gilani said Islamabad was “not supporting the Afghan Taliban”.
He added, “Why should we support (the Taliban)? That’s not our job.”
“It’s the job of Afghanistan to decide about their future. Our role is as a facilitator, we are part of the solution and not part of the problems,” he said.
It is in Pakistan’s interest to have a “stable, sovereign, independent and prosperous Afghanistan”, he said.
The people of Afghanistan should decide the destiny of their country and Pakistan would accept whatever they choose, Mr. Gilani said.
“The NATO, ISAF and the US will finally leave (Afghanistan) but we, as neighbours, we have to stay for the rest of our lives,” the premier said.
Western powers have accused Pakistan’s military and intelligence set-up of backing Afghan Taliban groups like the Haqqani network in a bid to undermine India’s growing influence in Afghanistan.
Mr. Gilani said he had asked the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to recommend new terms of engagement with the US and NATO following a cross-border air strike from Afghanistan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.
The panel’s recommendations will be debated at a joint session of parliament, which will shape future ties with the U.S., he said. In response to another question, Mr. Gilani acknowledged that there were a “lot of misunderstandings” between India and Pakistan but the two countries “can’t afford wars”.
“We both realise that, we both are nuclear powers. Therefore, after I became the Prime Minister, I requested (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh to discuss issues with him,” he said.
Dr. Singh “seems to be a very genuine person and we have agreed to discuss all our core issues, including the issue of Kashmir”, Mr. Gilani said.
The important issues between the two sides include Kashmir, the water issue, Sir Creek, Siachen, human rights and drug-trafficking, he said.
Following the resumption of bilateral dialogue, the secretaries of both countries have discussed these issues and the two Foreign Ministers are set to meet, he added.
Asked about reports that Israel could attack Iran over its nuclear programme, Mr. Gilani said: “We are for peace in the region. Our plate is full, we don’t want to destabilise the region. For all issues, it should be done through dialogue.”