Participants expressed appreciation on the successful official visit of the PM to US, PM House Islamabad said
Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership concurred on Tuesday that ‘willingness and seriousness’ of the Afghan government is necessary for the resumption of the peace talks stalled by the confirmation of death of Afghan Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar earlier this year.
This was the gist of a civil-military huddle convened at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. According to an official readout, the meeting reviewed the country’s internal security situation. “The participants expressed satisfaction and appreciation on the successful official visit of the prime minister to the US,” it said without giving details.
Afghan chief executive casts doubt on Pakistan’s role in peace process
However, sources said several issues, including the prime minister’s Washington visit and army chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s upcoming trip to the US, came up for discussion. The civil and military leadership agreed that if the Afghan government was serious in pursuing talks with the Afghan Taliban, it should publicly say that.
Attendees at the meeting included army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Advisor to the PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi, DGMO Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza and DG ISPR Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa.
Sources said most participants noted with disappointment that no major breakthrough could be achieved during Premier Nawaz’s Washington visit. Since the US administration has two major concerns in the region – Afghan peace process and US relations with India – it did not listen to Pakistan’s reservations vis-à-vis India nor did it offer to mediate to defuse tensions between Pakistan and India.
Kabul issues tepid response to Nawaz’s latest offer
Sources said the Pakistani delegation failed to impress the US administration with the three dossiers containing what they called evidence of India’s role in stoking terrorism in Pakistan. President Barack Obama diplomatically handled the matter saying that he would ‘privately’ ask Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to re-engage with Pakistan.
On the situation in Afghanistan, US officials asked Pakistan to use its influence on the Afghan Taliban to bring them back to the negotiating table with officials of President Ashraf Ghani’s administration, according to sources. The Americans are worried over the resurge in Taliban violence in Afghanistan and the stalemate in peace process.
Sources said the Pakistani delegation has told the US administration that the Taliban have strengthened their position against government forces in Afghanistan by capturing several areas and posing a threat to urban centres. Since the Taliban are in a bargaining position now, they would try to dictate their terms in negotiations.
Kabul urges Pakistan to target Afghan Taliban
Sources said Premier Nawaz will hold another excusive meeting with Gen Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar to discuss strategy for the upcoming visit of the army chief to the US.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2015.