Intra-Afghan dialogue

ACTING Afghan Foreign Minister, Hanif Atmar, while emphasising early holding of Intra-Afghan dialogue, has expressed cautious optimism about its success. Speaking at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington DC, Hanif Atmar underscored the need for release of all Taliban prisoners, notwithstanding reservations expressed about some of them by certain countries, which he did not name. The point has already been stressed by Russia, when they warned the incumbent Afghan government against the unnecessary delay in exchange of prisoners and urged to initiate direct talks with the Taliban. In a press briefing the other day, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that dragging feet on prisoners swap is delaying the convening of intra-Afghan negotiations, which will undermine international efforts towards facilitating a broad-based political settlement of the Afghan conflict.
Mr. Atmar asked Taliban to enter into direct talks with President Ashraf Ghani government. He appreciated Pakistan’s positive role in furthering the peace and reconciliation process for Afghanistan by inviting the Taliban and holding talks with them, but pleaded that representatives of Kabul government should also have been involved in the talks in Islamabad. Pakistan’s role is of neutral facilitator in ending the decade’s long Afghan dispute. Hence, it is a wrong perception that Pakistan wields influence over the Taliban and Shah Mahmood Qurashi has already cleared the air in this regards. Pakistan is actively engaging the sitting government in Afghanistan, which is evident from the telephone conversations that Prime Minister Imran Khan has held with President Ashraf Ghani on the occasion of Eid ul Azha and with Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman Afghan High Council for Reconciliation few days ago. The present ruling leadership of Pakistan wants that all Afghan political groups participate in intra- Afghan negotiations to reach an inclusive settlement, which alone can pave the way for restoring peace in Afghanistan, if post-Soviet troops withdrawal scenario is be avoided. This contention of Afghan Foreign minister is devoid of logic and negation of ground reality that Pakistan and India can discuss peace in Afghanistan and should not bring their rivalries to its soil. India is playing a visible role of spoiling the US-Taliban peace agreement by using the soil of Afghanistan for terrorist activities in the region.