Failure of Islamabad talks


Afghanistan’s two-day dialogue with Pakistan ended on Saturday without progress on issues dividing the two countries and fueling bilateral tensions. Islamabad hosted the meeting of what is named the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity, or APAPPS. The inaugural round of the Pakistan-initiated dialogue was held in Kabul on February 3. Though Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal regarded the two sides talks as “good” discussions with “some agreements” but said, further work was required. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai led their respective delegations comprising senior civilian and military officials. However, an Afghan Foreign Ministry statement issued in Kabul after Saturday’s talks categorically said the discussions made no headway on matters related to deteriorating security in Afghanistan.
The statement admitted some progress was made on the mechanism of cooperation, no progress was achieved on specific, results-oriented, time-bound measures in the APAPPS, particularly in the areas of counter terrorism, reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation to meet the priorities of Afghanistan. The Afghan government alleges the Taliban use sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to plot insurgent attacks and claimed last month’s bloody attacks in Kabul were planned in the neighboring country. Afghan officials also shared what they called “evidence” with Islamabad and demanded swift action against the perpetrators. Pakistan denied any links to the spate of attacks in the Afghan capital and maintains no Taliban sanctuaries are present on its side of the border. Islamabad has also offered to conduct joint investigations into the recent violence. For its part, Islamabad also alleges militants conducting terrorist attacks in Pakistan use sanctuaries on Afghan soil for plotting the violence. The allegations and counter allegations have plunged bilateral relations to new lows in recent years. Saturday’s talks also covered subjects such as repatriation of around three million Afghan refugees from Pakistan and joint economic development. Pakistani officials insist the prolonged presence of the refugee community coupled with “inadequate” border security on the Afghan side hamper Islamabad’s counterterrorism efforts. The United States has also increased pressure on Pakistan to take action against alleged militant sanctuaries, including those of the Haqqani terrorist network. Islamabad asserts the country is being scapegoated for US “failures” to secure Afghanistan.
It is recognised fact that military solution to situation in Afghanistan will not work and all stakeholders must encourage having talks with the Taliban. Political and military observers are of view that the political settlement is the only wayout and
that the engagement with the Taliban in talks would put an end to ongoing war in Afghanistan. Peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interests, and no one wishes peace in Afghanistan like Pakistan does. According to Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States said this is why Pakistan had joined the United States and the world as frontline state in war against terrorism and suffered a lot. U.S. President Donald Trump released his policy for South Asia last year, saying that the United States “can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations,” triggering anger from the Pakistani side. On the ongoing woes between Islamabad and Washington, it is said if the two could work together, they can easily sort out all the disputes. This is the need of the hour that Pakistan should further cement its bonding with other regional powers such as Iran and Russia realising the increasing US and Indian influence in the region.
Expressing the facts while addressing a high-profile security conference in Kabul, the Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Tuesday that the path to regional peace and stability goes through Afghanistan. Pakistan has eliminated terrorist sanctuaries on its soil, and remaining extremist elements are being tracked and targeted in the ongoing Radd-ul-Fasaad operation. Such elements have taken advantage of the presence of 2.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The conference was organized less than a month after a series of deadly attacks in Kabul, and the subsequent visit of a high-level Afghan delegation to Islamabad. The conference included representatives from the US, NATO, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Bajwa emphasized a collaborative approach to dealing with regional security challenges. He urged persistence, and said Pakistan is ready to play its role and will not allow anyone to use its soil against another state, and it expects the same from its neighbours.