Monday , December 11 2017

Pugwash conference urges Pakistan-Afghanistan to resume peace talks

By Arif Qureshi

Islamabad: Former military officials, Pak-Afghan security experts, politicians and human rights activists form Pakistan and Afghanistan unanimously urged Afghanistan and Pakistan to end decade’s long differences to bring peace in the region. It was said in day long discussion organized by Paolo Cotta-Ramusino secretary general of Pugwash, A Nobel Peace Prize-winning platform at a local hotel in Islamabad on Wednesday. The subject of the moot was to discuss the different ideas how can we bring all stakeholders of afghan peace process around the negotiations table including Afghan Taliban.

Paolo Cotta-Ramusino secretary general of Pugwash, Former chief of Inter service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, Gen® Asad Durani, Rustam Shah Mehmand, Rahim Ullah Yousafzai, former Ambassador Aziz Khan, former Ambassador Muhmmad Sadiq, Senator Sherry Rehman, brig® Sad, Abdullah Khan MD PICSS, Anwarul Haq Ahadi, Safia Sidiqqi, Rauf Hassan, Dr. Ghairat Bahir, Ziaul Haq Amarkhel, Haji Rooh Ullah Wakeel, Hekmat Safi, Faridoon Momand, Juma Khan Sufi, Jaafar Mahdavi were the prominent among the participants.

According to a source there was consensus among the participants that both Pakistan and Afghanistan have no other option expect to continue dialogue for a peaceful solution of dispute, Taliban are the main stakeholder of afghan conflict and to it is impossible to bring peace in Afghanistan with their inclusion in the dialogue, all were agree that both Pakistan and against should leave the attitude to issue irresponsible statements which only fuel the already existing stalled relations. The deal of Hizb Isalmi lead by Hikmat Yar and Afghan Government also came under discussion and Dr. Ghairat Bahir, a representative of the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), suggested that Afghan Taliban should follow the footprints of Hizb-e-Islami.

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According to leading afghan news agency Pajhwok matters of Forcing Afghan refugees to leave Pakistan, banning visas and other facilities at Torkham, building facilities on the border came under discussion briefly. There is a common perception in Afghanistan that Pakistan supported Afghan Taliban, an issue Islamabad should work on to win back the trust of Afghans, according to Ahadi, a former minister. Ex-Pakistani ambassador Sadiq Khan said that Kabul and Islamabad needed to understand each other’s concerns. Listing problems would not help, but both should work to find solutions, he suggested.

Dr. Ghairat Bahir, a representative of the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), said Islamabad did not need to look at Afghanistan through what he called an Indian prism. He urged poetical leaders to avoid making irresponsible statements because they could fuel tensions.

Former Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, Asad Durrani commented Islamabad and Kabul could not meet each other’s expectations. “It is difficult for Pakistan to eliminate all the Taliban militants.” Afghan lawmaker, Faridoon Momand said Afghans and Pakistanis were brothers, but some figures in Islamabad and Kabul were fueling divisions between the two nations. He added such elements should be isolated.

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Haji Roohullah Wakil, an Afghan tribal elder, asked Pakistan not to treat Afghanistan the way it did in the past. Afghanistan was an independent country and its people always wanted good relations with the neighbor, he continued.

Rauf Hassan, a member of the Pakistani delegation, said Islamabad should seek Kabul’s forgiveness for its mistreatment of iconic Afghan refugee woman, Sharbat Gula. However, another Pakistani participant, Juma Khan Sufi, said the stay of Afghan refugees were not in the interest of Pakistan. He asked Afghanistan to recognize the Durand Line as a formal border, an issue that sparked strong reaction from Afghan delegates.

An Afghan attendee, Dr. Farooq Azam, said recrimination would not resolve any problem and seeking foreigners’ assistance would not help either. Pakistanis and Afghans should resolve their problems on their own, he suggested. Afghanistan National Stability Society (NSS) head Ziaul Haq Amarkhel, said Pakistan did not need building new facilities on the Durand Line, because the step fueled tensions between the two nations.

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There was a common view in Afghanistan that Pakistan detained or killed the Taliban leaders who evinced an interest in peace talks, he said. For example, he said that Mullah Baradar was one of the pro-peace Taliban leaders detained by Pakistan. Afghan lawmaker Jaafar Mahdavi called the exclusion of Taliban and HIA from the Bonn Conference the mother of all problems. Sherry Rahman, a leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, said: “Let’s ignore slogans like Afghans and Pakistanis are brothers and recognize our borders and resolve our problems ourselves.” The Pugwash head called the conference effective and promised to continue holding such discussions in the future.

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