Brussels talks billed as a key initiative
KABUL (PAN): Political analysts view the latest tripartite meeting among Afghan, Pakistani and US leaders in Brussels as an important step toward convincing Islamabad into playing a more proactive role in the Afghan-led reconciliation campaign.
On Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai met the Pakistan army chief and foreign secretary in this Belgian capital as a result of a US-sponsored initiative to ease tensions between Kabul and Islamabad." height="1" width="1">
Relations between the neighbours hit a new low over Islamabad’s role in the flagging Afghan peace process and a spat over border gates recently built by Pakistan forces.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arranged the trilateral talks, hailed the meeting as “productive”. However, he hastened to add any results would have to be measured in terms of improved ties.
Political observer Ahmad Saeedi said the three-hour meeting at the US ambassador’s residence in the Belgian capital was substantive and important in that both sides openly stated their positions and demands.
He said in the presence of the US secretary of state, the Pakistani side tried to pin Karzai down to specific commitments on five issues, including the signing of a strategic pact and recognition of the Durand Line as an international border.
Other Pakistani demands, according to Saeedi, are smooth river water flows from Kunar into the neighbouring country; extradition of Maulvi Faqir Mohammad and Fazlullah, as well as equal political treatment of Islamabad and Delhi by Kabul.
On the other hand, Afghanistan asked Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, demonstrate its sincerity in the fight against terrorism, stop interference in border areas, remove recently-built border gates and free the Taliban wanted by Kabul.
The ex-diplomat claimed the Afghan side had sought US guarantees that Pakistan would honour its commitments. In response to realistic demands from Kabul, Islamabad had made a pitch for preferential treatment.
No side had the capacity to meet the other’s demands -- something that needed time and national debate, he argued, saying Pakistan was ruled by a caretaker set-up and Karzai’s presidential tenure would come to an end next year. This, however, can be helpful in terms of policy clarity.
“Karzai has cut no deal; instead he has spoken his minds and has asked the US to guarantee the implementation of what Islamabad says. The US has understood the stands of both allies,” he maintained.
Similarly, a Kabul University teacher billed the latest Core Group talks as the most important session on ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Wadeer Sapi said it was a robust Afghan-US effort to persuade Pakistan into putting an end to its policy of hypocrisy, as foreign troops to prepare to leave Afghanistan.
The US intervention had brought more pressure to bear on Pakistan, claimed the teacher, who did not expect immediate results from the negotiations. However, the frank discussions could yield an outcome in the future.
But another political commentator suggested Afghanistan’s diplomatic offensive would remain sterile as long as the international community did not force Pakistan into lending its weight to the reconciliation effort.
Pessimistic about the outcome of the talks, Abdul Ghafoor Lewal thought Kabul should have a powerful international partner whom it could turn to if Islamabad refused to play ball. The promises Islamabad had made at the London and Istanbul meetings were yet to translated into concrete action, he concluded.
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