LONDON - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday reaffirmed their continuing commitment to the Afghan peace process.
The three leaders during the trilateral meeting held at the Downing Street discussed economic cooperation and the Afghan-led peace process to which they all reaffirmed their continuing commitment.
The trio discussed Afghanistan and Pakistan’s shared interest in advancing regional peace, stability and prosperity, besides Pakistan-Afghanistan intelligence sharing. The meeting took place following the World Islamic Economic Forum.
The British prime minister earlier welcomed Prime Minister Nawaz and Afghan President Karzai for the trilateral discussions. This was the first meeting of the three countries since Prime Minister Nawaz assumed his office.
The leaders exchanged views about the situation after US troops drawdown from Afghanistan. They agreed on the fact that after the withdrawal of US troops, there should be no vacuum in Afghanistan and the past mistakes should not be repeated and that no such measures be taken that might affect any country in the region.
During the meeting, Pakistan reiterated its stance that the Taliban be included in the talks process for lasting peace in Afghanistan since they represented a large section of Afghan population. Prime Minister Nawaz assured the Afghan president of every possible help for talks with the Taliban.
The Afghan president demanded Prime Minister Nawaz that Mullah Baradar be handed over to Afghanistan. President Karzai and PM Nawaz agreed to continue with the negotiation process.
Nawaz said, “We do not support or oppose any Afghan group. We do not have any favourite among them. We want a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.” Nawaz called for including each group or faction in Afghan reconciliatory process, and said all the Afghans should decide their future by themselves. Nawaz also said Pakistan desired that all the opposing powers became part of the peace process. He said Pakistan would help the Afghan nation even after 2014. Pakistan also offered technical support to Afghanistan for the upcoming Afghan elections.
President Karzai appreciated Nawaz’ willingness to offer technical support for Afghan elections. He also praised the new Pakistani government’s policy toward Afghanistan.
The meeting was also apprised of the nature of talks with the Taliban in Pakistan. British Premier Cameron admitted Pakistan stance that dialogue with the militants (Taliban) was important for peace within Pakistan.
The meeting, at British PM’s residence, continued for three hours. PM Nawaz was assisted by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Adviser on National security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, while the Afghan President was assisted by his adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta. The leaders also reviewed progress on the decisions taken during the last trilateral meeting.
In an interview with a TV channel in London, PM Nawaz asked the Pakistani Taliban to join peace talks with his government and ‘become part of the political process’. Nawaz said his government wants peace in Pakistan and the region. He said he had tasked Interior Minister Ch Nisar to pursue talks with Taliban.
He said the process of initiating dialogue with the Taliban had been met with setbacks, but “All our efforts are directed towards speeding up this process.”
He said, “We want to take all stakeholders on board in connection with peace talks with Taliban.” Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, Nawaz said the dialogue process was vital for peace in Afghanistan. “The Afghan Taliban should join the peace council and become part of the political process,” he said.
TALKS WITH TTP SOON: NISAR
Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali said homework into proposed talks with the Taliban has been completed after consultations with stakeholders.
He said the dialogue process with the Taliban is expected to be launched soon. He was speaking to participants of National Management Course in Islamabad on Tuesday. He said National Counter Terrorism Authority is being restored as basic authority of anti-terrorism. He said that steps are also being taken to establish joint directorate of intelligence agencies for better coordination.