Pakistan ‘concerned’ by Afghan doubts over its commitment to peace

Special Pakistan ‘concerned’ by Afghan doubts over its commitment to peace
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, right, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of a Taliban political team, arrive at the Foreign Ministry for talks, Islamabad, Dec. 16, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 28 December 2020

Pakistan ‘concerned’ by Afghan doubts over its commitment to peace

Pakistan ‘concerned’ by Afghan doubts over its commitment to peace
  • ‘Blame game’ hurts negotiations, says official spokesman

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday said it was “concerned about some negative comments” from Afghanistan about its commitment to the peace process and accusations that it was hosting Taliban leaders on its soil.

A video released on social media last week showed the deputy Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar meeting with purported senior members of the armed group in Karachi.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry on Friday said the development was posing a “serious challenge to achieving sustainable peace” in
the country. 

But, following Arab News’ request for comment, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the country remained committed to the peace process.

“While Pakistan’s efforts are acknowledged and appreciated by Afghan society and the international community, we are concerned about some negative comments which continue to emanate from certain official as well as unofficial Afghan circles,” a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhari, said.

Baradar was in Pakistan with other Taliban delegates in mid-December to meet top officials to push forward stalled peace talks between the group and Kabul to end decades of war. When Taliban representatives arrived in Pakistan on Dec. 16, Kabul said the visit was taking place in consultation with the Afghan government.

Following the viral video, however, Kabul said that while the visit had initially “raised further hopes for taking practical steps toward stopping the bloodshed and bringing about sustainable peace in Afghanistan,” the footage “disclosed” the presence of Taliban leaders in Pakistani territory.

Chaudhari said that Pakistan would like to “reiterate its firm commitment” for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. 

The “public blame game” was detrimental to the Afghan peace process and efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation, which were strengthened during Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Kabul in November, he added.

“We would continue to emphasize the mutually agreed on fundamental principle that all bilateral issues, including security and intelligence matters, should be addressed through relevant bilateral forums and channels.” 

Pakistan was ready to extend to Afghanistan all possible cooperation in the area of security,
he added.

Peace talks in Doha between Kabul and the Taliban are due to restart on Jan. 5, and Chaudhari said they would be a “delicate phase” of intra-Afghan negotiations. “It is important for the negotiating parties to avoid accusations and to demonstrate wisdom, sagacity and vision for the larger objective of lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he added.

The talks follow a landmark deal signed between the US and the Taliban in February, with Pakistan considered key in getting the group to the negotiation table with US delegations and to ultimately participate in intra-Afghan talks.