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Pakistan to collaborate with USA and China for Afghan reconciliation process

02 December, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan announced on Tuesday that it was making a renewed effort, in collaboration with the United States and China, to revive the stalled Afghan reconciliation process.

“Pakistan... would like to make renewed efforts to resurrect the peace and reconciliation process. Since it has to be an Afghan-led process, we are confident that the Afghan government and the Taliban would step forward with concrete ideas and proposals and engage in meaningful reconciliation talks."

“Pakistan is prepared to extend its full support and assistance in promoting any such initiative,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office and attributed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Although the statement called for “a quadrilateral initiative to restart the reconciliation process”, it emphasised the role of the US and China as “vital partners”.

It has long been known that Pakistan has been working with the international community for the resumption of the dialogue for peace in Afghanistan, but this is the first formal statement that Pakistan is about to launch a fresh effort for salvaging the dialogue that was stalled after the disclosure about Mullah Omar’s death in July.

The US and Pakistan had agreed last month to expedite the resumption of the reconciliation process during Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s visit to Washington.

The government is expecting that “a common roadmap” for the resumption of the dialogue would be agreed during President Ashraf Ghani’s trip to Islamabad on December 9 for attending the Heart of Asia ministerial meeting being jointly hosted by Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to sources, confirmation of President Ghani’s visit came following meetings between Prime Minister Sharif and Mr Ghani on Monday on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Change Summit. The trip was earlier in doubt because of the strains in bilateral ties caused by events following the disruption in the reconciliation process.

Mr Ghani was encouraged by Britain and the US to accept the invitation for the Heart of Asia Conference.

The government also used the good offices of Pakhtun leaders to ease some of the bilateral tensions. A delegation of Pakhtun leaders led by ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan had visited Kabul before Mr Sharif left for Paris.

The Pak-Afghan rapprochement following a brief breakdown is predicated on the understanding that both countries would deny sanctuaries on their soil to terrorists, improve border coordination and coordinate closely at the political, diplomatic, military and intelligence levels.

A source described President Ghani’s coming visit as very important, which would help improve ties after the recent strains. “The improvement is essential for all other things to happen including reconciliation,” he said.

The source said that some confidence-building measures were expected to be announced during President Ghani’s visit. He, however, would not elaborate on what measures were expected.

About the reconciliation process, the source said a breakthrough would take place only after the Afghans actually owned and led the process instead of wavering on it with every change in political situation in their country.

Meanwhile, Gen Sharif is expected to visit Kabul in the next few weeks to discuss the reconciliation initiative.

The dates for his visit were being finalised, a source said adding that it was unlikely to happen before the Dec 9 trip by President Ghani.

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