WASHINGTON - Former British foreign secretary David Miliband, saying one cannot rely solely on the High Peace Council, has called for the creation of a council on regional stability to bring all players together on one platform.
"I think internally we can't just rely on the High Peace Council that President (Hamid) Karzai has set up to lead this (peace talks with the Taliban)," Miliband said on Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think-tank.
"We all know that the internal and the regional are umbilically linked in Afghanistan. I think the goal should be a council on regional stability that brings all the players together. It's only when they're staring each other in the face that we're going to get to serious discussion," Miliband added.
The former foreign secretary said that Taliban and Al Qaeda were obviously not the same. "It's very important to say that. Some Afghan Taliban have links or sympathies with Al Qaeda's global jihadist project," he explained.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, himself had said that at least 80 percent of the insurgents had no more interest in global jihad, according to Miliband. "I think it's very important that we don't confuse those two."
Miliband explained stability in Afghanistan without stability in Pakistan was not a stable equation. "Let's be careful, though. Should Pakistan have its own interests? Yes, it should. A country should have its own interests, for obvious reasons.
"I think that there's been a significant change in Pakistan during my time as foreign secretary, in that Pakistan, both civilian and military's concept of its own interest, came to include the realization that there was a dangerous enemy within which was an insurgency that killed Benazir Bhutto and threatens the stability of the state," he said.
"Equally, as well as Pakistan being a victim of terrorism, any of us who have been there or study the region know that terrorism is exported from Pakistan as well. And that's what you're alluding to."
One of the most chilling things over the last few months had been the idea that America had a choice about whether or not to sever links with Pakistan, the ex-secretary pointed out.
"If you think it's difficult, frustrating, innovating, dangerous dealing with Pakistan at the moment as a partner, try fulfilling your own interests in South Asia without Pakistan as a partner," Miliband remarked.
He believed it was very important that Pakistan understood what was expected of it, its responsibilities and had its rights respected as well. It's easy to say that in theory, but actually it's meaningful in practice. That is a country which needs the international community, including its neighbors, to stand with on security, trade and institution building." (Pajhwok)