Pakistan to seek greater role in Afghan peace process

Pakistan to seek greater role in Afghan peace process

As Afghanistan inches toward a political settlement with the Taliban, Pakistan seems increasingly eager to secure its strategic interests in the war-torn country when it holds high-level talks this week with US officials.

Long suspected of covertly aiding the Afghan insurgency since 2001, Pakistan would like to convince the United States of certain concessions Wednesday in the first ministerial-level strategic dialogue with the US government, dpa reported.

Successful operations against militants last year in Swat valley and South Waziristan and stepped up activities against top Afghan Taliban leaders in recent weeks have earned US appreciation and are likely to help Pakistan's cause with Washington.

Pakistan wants a significant role in the Afghan peace talks, which could lead to a broad-based government including Taliban and other militant groups.

The United States supports the Afghan-led negotiations with the insurgents as long as any who join the political process renounce violence and accept the rule of law.

"Our concern, shared by Afghanistan, is that they cease support for insurgents, they live in accordance with the Afghan constitution, renounce violence and have no ties to al-Qaeda or terrorist organizations," State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters Monday in Washington.

The Pakistani delegation is led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and includes military chief General Parvez Kayani, Inter- Services Intelligence chief Shujaa Pasha and Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar.

The US side will be led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The agenda of the two-day dialogue includes defence and socio- economic issues like agriculture, communication, public diplomacy, trade, energy and water, but security matters will be the main focus.

"Afghanistan will be on the top of the list, and the talks on the rest of the issues will depend on how the sides reach a consensus on the core issue, Afghanistan," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a prominent Pakistan analyst and former visiting professor at New York's Columbia University.

There is consensus on at least one matter. Both countries want to avoid being bypassed by their old allies - Pakistan by the Afghan Taliban, and the US by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said a senior Pakistani diplomat who asked not to be named.

Intelligence agents of both countries celebrated the recent arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy to Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, in Pakistani southern port city of Karachi.

Baradar, the Taliban's strategic guru, was holding direct talks with Karzai and the United Nations, which was irritating for Pakistan as it has invested hugely in Afghanistan in terms of compromises on its own security and economy.

The Americans want the Taliban at the table only after Washington's recent surge of 30,000 troops has broken militant hopes to win the battle. But Karzai seems to be in haste and working on his own plans.

Two days after his deputy spokesman Siamak Hirawi told reporters that Baradar's arrest had hampered peace initiatives, a senior delegation of the Hezb-e-Islami, one of Afghanistan's three main insurgent groups, met Karzai.

Pakistan wants assurances that Washington will not abandon the region once its goals in the war on terrorism are achieved, as it did shortly after the removal of Soviet troops from Kabul in 1990, said Rasool Bux Raees, a political scientist at the prestigious Lahore University of Management Science.

"That mistake on the part of the Americans left resourceless Pakistan with the only choice to support Taliban who emerged as a force that could take over all the jihadi groups that were fighting each other for the throne in Kabul, years after the Soviet Union's withdrawal," Bux said.

Washington has announced plans to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 but is trying to reassure the Pakistanis about long-term engagement.

"This (strategic dialogue) is not a photo op, although you will have an opportunity to take a photo," Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said at a briefing last week. "This is an intense, serious dialogue, bilaterally between the US and Pakistan."

The Obama administration this year approved a plan to send billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan over the next several years to help with infrastructure projects, building schools and bolstering the economy.

Besides a driving seat in Afghan peace talks, Pakistan is seeking more economic aid and trade concessions to compensate 40-billion- dollar losses it says it suffered due to its anti-terrorism alliance with Washington since 2001.

Foreign investors have moved out billions of dollars since 2007, when Pakistani Islamist insurgents launched a series of attacks inside the country to retaliate against Pakistan's crackdown on the Taliban's use of Pakistani soil to launch cross-border raids on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The United States had been pressuring Pakistan to get tough with the militants.

The Pakistani military assault was destructive in north-west Pakistan and put an additional burden on the country's budget to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the military actions, and caused an increase in defence spending to fight terrorism.

"Pakistan would also be asking US to share the cost for post- conflict reconstruction in the conflict areas and attend to the economic problems which Pakistan is suffering due to American war in Afghanistan," Askari said.

US may not issue "blank cheque" to meet Pakistan's demands, but the dialogue is expected to set a "process" of serious engagements in motion and provide a platform to listen to each other more attentively.

Putin orders Russia to begin large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations next week
Putin orders Russia to begin large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations next week
Azerbaijani, Russian FMs hold telephone conversation
Azerbaijani, Russian FMs hold telephone conversation
Russia discloses volumes of agricultural products supplied to Georgia
Russia discloses volumes of agricultural products supplied to Georgia
Loading Bars
Latest
Ex-French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing has died from coronavirus - family
Turakurgan TPP improving ecological situation in Uzbekistan
Putin orders Russia to begin large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations next week
France reports 14,064 new COVID-19 cases, 310 deaths
Germany extends COVID-19 restriction measures till January
Poland to start COVID-19 vaccinations as confirmed cases top 1 mln
First Vice-President of Brazilian Federal Senate sends letter to President of Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan's postal service operator opens tender to buy petrol
Kazakhstan decreases import from Canada twofold amid COVID-19
Number of enterprises launched in Iran's Fars Province increases
UK records another 16,170 coronavirus cases with 648 deaths
UAE launches satellite Falcon Eye into space
Azerbaijani, Russian FMs hold telephone conversation
Iran ranked among states with high efficiency turbine tech.
Kyrgyz ambassador and Secretary of Senate of Pakistan discuss inter-parliamentary cooperation
Restrictions mulled for New Year celebrations amid COVID-19 outbreak in Turkey
Georgian FM meets with Polish counterpart in Warsaw
Protesters in Yerevan demand Pashinyan's resignation (VIDEO)
Pfizer-BioNTech seeks full marketing approval from UK for COVID-19 vaccine
Kazakhstan eyes attracting latest US technologies in soybeans processing
Kazakhstan's Zhambyl to reduce energy-dependence by attracting investments in renewables
Germany reports record 487 COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours
Belarus reports 1,689 new COVID-19 cases, 139,908 in total
Azerbaijan eyes to use potential of liberated lands for fishery development
UN office announces agenda of special session of General Assembly on COVID-19 initiated by Azerbaijani president
Additional assets brought for Russian peacekeeping contingent delivered - Azerbaijani MoD (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan gains brilliant victory by liberating its lands - Chairman of National Congress of Azerbaijanis of Georgia
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry expresses condolences to Iranian side (PHOTO)
Deposit liabilities of Georgian banking system decreases month-in-month
Phase 3 of OPEC+ could lead to immediate fall in oil prices
Azerbaijan reveals TOP-10 private non-oil exporters
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on December 5
Azerbaijani banks to fully сancel loan debts of martyrs' families
Lending by Georgian commercial banks down
Iran reveals forecast for oil sales for next year
Lari depreciation remains one of leading factors in Georgian debt growth
Georgia decides to ease entry regime for its citizens
Aztelekom LLC announces tender for purchase of electronic spare parts
Bentley hires jets to fly car parts to Britain during Brexit
National Bank of Georgia reveals volume of international reserves
Georgia sees increase in overdue debt
Uzbekistan, Afghanistan eye to achieve twofold growth in trade
Russia discloses volumes of agricultural products supplied to Georgia
Azerbaijan's State Security Service prosecutes Lebanese terrorist mercenary (VIDEO)
Ashgabat City Telephone Network opens tender for audit
EU extends relief measures for COVID-hit loans to March
Turkmenistan expands international cooperation through environmental diplomacy
Iran expands mobile phone imports
Azerbaijani Clean City OJSC signs tender contract
Israel expects $220 million in non-defence trade with Bahrain in 2021
Azerbaijan determines damage inflicted by Armenia on Fuzuli, Jabrayil districts
Turkey to continue providing all kinds of assistance to Azerbaijan - Turkish Minister of National Defense
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price still rising
Employment increases in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province
Azerbaijan reduces lead exports
Investment in tourism transport infrastructure to help dev’t this sector in Turkmenistan - UNWTO
Georgia expects to start adoption of Oil Stockholding Act soon
Iranian president declares budget revenues for next year
Uzbekistan’s Agrobank to fund entrepreneurial activity under Islamic sharia law
Tightening of quarantine regime may be inevitable - TABIB
Iran expects increase of budget revenues
Georgian CEC to summarize final results of parliamentary elections on December 3
COVID-19 pandemic to displace business class cars from car rental market
Azerbaijan unveils data on local insurers' fees for 10M2020
Building for Turkish-Russian joint monitoring center under construction - Turkish Minister of National Defense
Georgia cultivates significant amount of land to combat marble bugs
Uzbekistan’s Tashkent registers largest number of private enterprises
Tourism can help protect, promote Turkmenistan’s culture - UNWTO
Volume of sales through Azexport portal continues to grow
New electricity facilities to be put into operation in Iran
Japanese agency funds project aimed at improving locust control in Uzbekistan
Georgian oil company trying to contain fuel price rise
Uzbekistan, Germany in talks over partnership with EU
Value of OIC states' import from Turkey shows decline
Azerbaijan's non-oil exports via 'Single Window' system increase
SOCAR Polymer remains export leader in Azerbaijan's private sector
Georgia aims to transpose renewables acquis
Kazakhstan's crude petroleum oil exports to Greece plummet
Construction of Kerki airport passenger terminal being completed in Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan's AzerGold becomes one of export leaders in public sector
Trilateral statement on Karabakh to contribute to long-term peace in region - Kazakhstan's President
Kazakhstan discloses volume of doses to be produced by COVID-19 vaccine plant
ASTS+ trading, clearing system to up productivity of Kazakhstan Stock Exchange
Azerbaijan announces recent COVID-19 death rate
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for December 2
Azerbaijan presents video footage from Lachin's Garygyshlag village (VIDEO)
Oil prices steady as market awaits output deal
Iran's export to Afghanistan increases
Prices of Kazakh-manufactured diesel fuel down
Azerbaijan's October 2020 non-oil exports slightly rise
Expenses on construction of enterprises in Iran’s Semnan Province climbs
Resources from Southern Gas Corridor to be available via Serbian-Hungarian pipeline
Iran's non-oil export has increases
Iron ore concentrate production of giant Iranian steel companies grows
Events in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh region, Kyrgyzstan complicate situation in CSTO area – Putin
Turkmenistan working on development of infrastructure for gas export
Uzbekistan’s State Tax Committee announces tender for IT services
Azerbaijan confirms 3,942 new COVID-19 cases, 2,265 recoveries
Azerbaijan shows video footage from Soyudlu gold deposit of Kalbajar district (VIDEO)
Turkish companies involved in construction of new road to Azerbaijan’s Shusha (Exclusive)
All news