Pakistan reiterates support for Afghan reconciliation process

Islamabad, Feb 6 (IANS) Pakistan on Saturday assured its full support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process and asserted that it fully supports stability in Kabul.

Addressing a meeting here of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group on Afghanistan — which aims to devise a road map for peace and reconciliation in the strife-torn nation, a top Pakistani prime ministerial aide hoped that a roadmap for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban would soon be finalised.

Senior officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US are attending the meeting — the third since the formation of the four-nation group in December.

Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai is leading the seven-member delegation at the meeting.

Chinese Special Envoy to Kabul Deng Xijun, US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard G. Olsan and Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry were leading their respective delegations.

Member-countries of the Heart of Asia Process on the sidelines of the conference on Afghanistan, hosted by Pakistan in December last year, formed the Quadrilateral Group to strive to steer out Afghanistan from the decades of violence and establish peace through peaceful means.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Nawaz Sharif were present in that meeting, which was also attended by senior officials from China and the US.

A consensus has emerged during the previous meetings that there should be no pre-conditions attached to the possible peace talks. But the participants want some confidence building measures to encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiation table.

The Taliban have refused so far to hold talks with the Afghan government in the presence of foreign forces in the country, even though the main faction of Taliban, led by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, has hinted at joining it at an appropriate time.

The Taliban political negotiators listed some steps ahead of the talks at an unofficial meeting in Qatar last month that include opening of their political office in Doha, removal of travel curbs on their leaders and release of prisoners.

The Taliban office in Qatar was closed days after its opening in 2013 after then Afghan President Hamid Karzai raised objections at the use of the white flag and the plaque of “Islamic Emirate”. The Taliban had used both the signs during their rule (1996-2001).

The Taliban also want to talk first to the Americans to discuss withdrawal of the foreign forces.

Political observers and analysts believe that peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan will not bear fruits until the Afghan government offers some attractive incentives to the insurgents to come to the negotiation table.

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