Afghan peace vital for Pakistan’s stability, US envoy says

United State’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad on Oct. 9. (Photo courtesy: Press Information Department)
Updated 10 October 2018

Afghan peace vital for Pakistan’s stability, US envoy says

  • Khalilzad’s visit aimed at seeking greater participation from Islamabad in bringing Taliban to negotiating table
  • Experts say US more engaged in finding political solution to decades-long Afghan conflict

ISLAMABAD: Following a meeting with key government officials on Tuesday, US’ Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation reiterated the need for Pakistan to play a greater role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, adding that peace in Kabul was vital for stability in Islamabad. 

Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday as part of his first visit to Pakistan since being appointed for the role. “During his stay in Pakistan, he consulted with Pakistani leaders on how best to achieve a durable political settlement in Afghanistan,” a statement released by the US Embassy in Islamabad said on Wednesday.

He landed in Islamabad after concluding meetings with the Afghan leadership in Kabul where he urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to detail their “negotiating teams” in order to move forward with the peace process. Khalilzad’s schedule includes stopovers in the UAE and Qatar, with a visit to Saudi Arabia next on the agenda.     

Earlier on Tuesday, delegates from Pakistan and the US held high-level talks on the Afghan reconciliation process at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. The Pakistani side was led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua while Khalilzad represented the US. Later, the visiting delegation met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. 

Senior analyst and expert on Afghan Affairs, Rahimullah Yusufzai, told Arab News that Khalilzad’s visit to Islamabad is an important step in setting the stage for future interaction between the two sides. “The US has now firmly put its weight behind finding a political solution to end the decades-long Afghan conflict by appointing the special envoy for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and picking the Afghan-born Khalilzad, who served as Washington’s ambassador to Kabul in the early years of the post-Taliban period,” he said. 

In his maiden address, following his election win in July this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised that the Pakistan government would be “a partner in peace,” and support Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s plans for the Taliban. 

Yusufzai said that despite the strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, US officials have repeatedly asked Pakistan to play its role in the Afghan reconciliation process by engaging the Taliban in negotiations.

“The US has also been asking Pakistan to take action against the irreconcilable elements among the Taliban who are opposed to the peace process, while Pakistan has refused to take action on its soil against the Afghan Taliban leaders who may be present in the country,” Yusufzai said. 

Islamabad argues that it has limited influence on the Afghan Taliban, but has promised to work towards peace to ensure regional security and stability. Pakistan’s role is also considered important in removing any hurdles in the peace process, even as it takes on the responsibility of becoming one of the key guarantors in case there’s any progress with the talks. 

“Pakistan is willing to play its role but the Taliban are unwilling to start direct talks with the Ghani regime. Pakistan already promised to assist both Washington and Kabul, but it may not able to satisfy them,” Zafar Jaspal, a professor at the school of politics and international relations in Quaid-e-Azam University, told Arab News. 

Yusufzai maintains that Islamabad is willing to play the role of a facilitator, “though it would continue to argue that making peace in Afghanistan has to be a shared objective of all the stakeholders instead of Pakistan’s alone”.

Jailed Pashtun lawmakers released after four months in custody

Updated 21 September 2019

Jailed Pashtun lawmakers released after four months in custody

  • Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar were arrested after a deadly clash at a security checkpost in northern Pakistan in May
  • In Twitter post after his release, Dawar thanked Bilawal Bhutto for support; said allegations of violence were “most hurtful”

PESHAWAR: After months of detention, two Pakistani parliamentarians from South and North Waziristan were released two days after they received bail in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a senior member of their political party, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), said on Saturday.
The two lawmakers, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, were arrested alongside several members of the PTM following a deadly clash between troops and party supporters at the Khar Qamar checkpost in North Waziristan tribal district in May, where 13 people were killed.
“Justice has won and it is proved that Wazir and Dawar were innocent. Both the members (of the) National Assembly are among us and our constitutional and peaceful struggle will get fresh momentum,” Abdullah Nangyal, a senior leader of the PTM, told Arab News.
He said that hundreds of PTM supporters greeted the two lawmakers when they came out of the high-security Haripur prison after midnight on Saturday.
“The release of the MNAs had to be delayed for hours because of submitting legal documents and furnishing surety bonds,” Nangyal said.

From right, lawmaker Mohsin Dawar, leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), Manzoor Pashteen, PTM leader Abdullah Nangyal and lawmaker Ali Wazir in a car heading to the provicial capital Peshawar after the release of the two lawmakers from a jail on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (Photo: Social Media)

Soon after their release, both parliamentarians drove straight to the provincial capital of Peshawar alongside supporters, from where it is expected they will travel onwards to their home constituencies in North and South Waziristan.
After his release from jail, lawmaker Mohsin Dawar said in a series of Twitter posts that the “allegation of violence against us preachers of non-violence,” was the most “hurtful in all this.”
“I would like to thank all of those who raised their voice for our release. There are too many names, but one that I must mention is @BBhuttoZardari for his unwavering support both in & out of parliament,” he tweeted.
Headed by Justice Nasir Mehfooz, the Bannu bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday had conditionally approved bail applications that said the lawmakers would furnish surety bonds of Rs. 1 million each.
In addition, the court barred the parliamentarians from leaving the country, and directed them to appear before district police officers once a month.
Later, in a detailed verdict, the bench stated that the bail was granted only for a period of one month, and would be subject to conditions of “good behavior.” Before the expiry of that period, both men would need to file fresh bail applications in the PHC.
Separately, the two lawmakers were also named in a case lodged on June 7 at a police station in Bannu, after an IED explosion in Doga Macha in North Waziristan tribal district, left four army officers martyred. Wazir and Dawar were already in custody at the time of the IED blast and received bail in the Doga Macha case last month by an anti-terrorism court.