Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Peace Talks Starts between Kabul and Islamabad new Administration

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Peace Talks Starts between Kabul and Islamabad new Administration

The new Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, traveled to Kabul and met with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, and Acting Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on Saturday. Upon his arrival in Kabul, Qureshi went to Presidential Palace where he met with President Ghani and with Rabbani in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA.) Ghani and Qureshi discussed peace, security and stability in the region, joint efforts against terrorism and the implementation of Afghanistan-Pakistan action plan, the Presidential Palace said, as quoted, in a statement.
As reflected in Pakistani media, their foreign minister handed over a letter from Prime Minister Imran Khan, addressed to President Ghani, marking the first consignment of 40,000 tonnes of wheat gifted to the Afghan people. They added that the two foreign ministers took decisions on four meetings including hosting of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC), to convene the meeting of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA), meeting of the Steering Committee of the Joint Ulema Conference and the meeting of the working groups of APAPPS.
In his meeting with Abdullah at Sapidar Palace, both sides discussed a range of issues including fighting terrorism, improving Kabul-Islamabad relations. “We expressed the hope that the relations between the two countries will improve under the new administration (in Pakistan) and we hoped that the two countries will cooperate with each other in fighting terror and using the opportunities on the ground for improvement and expansion of economic ties (between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Chief Executive Abdullah said on his Facebook page after his meeting with Pakistani foreign minister.
According to local media reports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Rabbani and his Pakistani counterpart discussed Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), Afghanistan-Pakistan’s Ulema Meeting, and holding of the second round of the trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and China. The ministry said the two sides agreed to hold the Ulema meeting in the near future and they also agreed on holding the trilateral meeting. The ministry however did not give information that when and where the meetings will be held. 
The last meeting between the three countries was hosted by China in December 2017 where Beijing tried to mediate between Kabul and Islamabad to help them improve their relations. This high-profile visit came after the US cut three-million-dollar aid from Pakistan and warned for more reactions if they persist to allow terrorists use their soil against Afghanistan. It seems that the diplomatic pressure on Islamabad was not useless. The Foreign Ministry has said they are optimistic about Pakistan’s new government policies and hopes that Islamabad fulfills its promises on fighting terrorism.
Some Afghan analysts, however, are not optimistic blaming that Pakistan has not been honest in implementing what it has promised to Afghanistan. “If we look at the past, Pakistan has not honestly done what it has promised to Afghanistan. We hope that Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan implements new policies,” university lecturer Faizullah Jalal said. Meanwhile, he expresses hope that the new administration of Pakistan may open new chapter of relationship between the two countries as they are also tired of long-term complexities; anyway, the new flexibility showed by Islamabad is a sign of retreat from their previous positions. In the context of enhancing trade between the two countries, Pakistan had decided to waive off regulatory duty on imports from Afghanistan. They also invited President Ghani to visit Pakistan. 
Overall, ups and downs between two countries get back to many years ago; Afghans had frequently said that they do not trust Pakistan blaming they do not want to be honest about Afghanistan’s peace and security. For this reason, when Pakistan had invited the president to visit Pakistan was repeatedly rejected. In dealings with Pakistan, Afghanistan insists on a few points: first, Pakistan is in an unannounced war with Afghanistan which means that peace with the Taliban is not possible without peace with Pakistan; initially, we need to resolve our fundamental issues with Pakistan, then with the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Because these groups are blamed for receiving orders from the intelligence circles of that country and that’s why they cannot join the peace process until they are allowed.
Secondly, it was blamed that Pakistan was not honest in fighting against terrorist; they divided terrorism into good and bad, targeting only those groups that are hostile to the Pakistani government and carry out terrorist attacks on the territory of Pakistan but those groups that targets Afghanistan are supported. Meanwhile, Kabul stressed that Islamabad should set its relationships on the basis of government to government and adjust its policies to the same extent. Supporting terrorist groups and negotiating with some insurgent groups instead of the government can undoubtedly damage the relations between the two countries. Farther more, they must understand that the current situation is not in the interest of any party, and none of the countries could profit from the insecurity of each and other. 
Finally, Afghanistan wanted Pakistan to recognize its national sovereignty and accept that Afghanistan is an independent state that independently adopts its domestic and foreign policies. Afghanistan has always called for good-faith relations and good will with neighboring countries, regions and the world, and has never intervened in the affairs of other countries. Afghanistan does not allow any country to use its soil against other countries and always respects the sovereignty and national interests of the countries.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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