Afghanistan's President and other senior leaders have announced that they are rethinking the relationship with Pakistan and its negotiations with the Taliban because talks had yielded so little.

As a result, said the leaders, they planned to work closely with the United States, Europe and India to plan the country's future.

The shift in Afghanistan's policies emerged in a statement released by the presidential palace on Thursday after a meeting on Wednesday night of senior government officials, including the two Vice-Pesidents, the national security adviser and several former military commanders who are close advisers to President Hamid Karzai and who fought to push the Russians out of the country in the 1980s.

“Despite making repeated attempts in the past three years, including sending several letters to the Taliban to open negotiations in order to bring peace and stability to the country, our leaders, scholars, influential figures, elders, women and children, old and young are being martyred,” said the statement, referring to a string of assassinations this year, most recently the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani, chairman of the peace council.

While the peace talks have yielded little, they had provided Afghanistan and the United States with the hope that there could be a negotiated end to the 10-year-old war. The statement did not rule out the possibility of future talks, but suggested there was little prospect that they would continue.

With regard to Pakistan, the tone was similarly frustrated.

“Despite three years of talks, coming and going, good intentions and efforts, made by Afghanistan for peace and the initiation of good relations with Pakistan, the Pakistani government has not taken any measures for closing down its terrorist safe havens nor prevented the training and equipping of terrorists on its soil,” said the statement.

One measure of Afghan frustration was the statement's specific mention of the prospect of a strategic partnership with India, in addition to the United States and Europe. Pakistan considers India its archenemy, and by mentioning it, Afghanistan appeared to be positioning itself in opposition to Pakistan, despite their longtime relationship.

Reconciliation

Over the past several months, Afghanistan appeared to have had a reconciliation with Pakistan, and the two countries had been meeting regularly, bilaterally and also with U.S. representatives present. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Afghanistan was planning to suspend the trilateral talks indefinitely.

It remained unclear how far Afghanistan wished to go in pushing away Pakistan and what approach it would prefer. “The question is peace with whom?” said the statement. — New York Times News Service

Keywords: Pak-Afghan ties

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