With the United States efforts afoot to end the stalemate in talks with the Taliban in Doha, Pakistan on Tuesday cautioned against a prolonged civil war in Afghanistan if the Afghan reconciliation process failed and peace and stability could not be brought back to the war-torn neighbouring state through dialogue and negotiations.
The deadlock in talks between the US and the Taliban over the latter’s office in Doha, according to Pakistani officials was unfortunate and they feel that a meaningful dialogue between all the stakeholders in Afghanistan must begin to resolve the Afghanistan issue.
On condition of anonymity, a senior Pakistani official said they felt the Qatari authorities had mishandled the issue of the ‘Taliban Office’ in Doha. “The talks between Taliban and US officials could have been held at some different venue as well,” he said.
The official also expressed concerns over the role of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the Afghanistan reconciliation process and said he should play a constructive role in this regard.
He, however, hoped that the Doha talks would soon resume and the current impasse would prove to be a temporary one. He said the Taliban had been accepted as one of the stakeholders in Afghanistan as a result of the Doha process.
“The United States, the Afghan government, the Taliban and Northern Alliance are stakeholders in Afghanistan and there must be a dialogue between them,” he said.
“The resumption of the Doha process is vital for the peace and security of Afghanistan,” he said, adding that if the reconciliation process failed to deliver, Afghanistan could plunge into a prolonged civil war.
Asked about Pakistan’s contingency plan for its own security in case of any civil war erupting in Afghanistan, the official said Pakistan would take all possible measures for its border security and to avert any spill over effect of the war and strife in Afghanistan on Pakistani regions.
He said Pakistan would continue to support the peace process in Afghanistan and it would not engage in blame games with the neighboring state despite the harsh and negative statements being directed towards Islamabad from across the western border.
On relations with the US, the official said Pakistan wanted to move beyond Afghanistan in its relations with Washington, adding that the strategic dialogue between Islamabad and Washington that encompassed talks on cooperation in different sectors must be restored.
On Indo-Pak ties and the ongoing fresh efforts by both sides for the resumption of the peace dialogue, the official said the Indo-Pak ties had a good start but it was accident prone.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could have a meeting with his Indian counterpart in September this year in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly’s meeting but before that both sides were required to have fruitful engagements at the officials and ministers’ level.
Another senior Pakistani official, who also sought anonymity, said the prime minister’s visit to China was very successful and it was evident from various agreements and MoUs signed during his trip to the friendly neighboring state.
“The agreements signed in China will bring investment of billions of dollars to Pakistan and will help revive the struggling economy,” he said.
To a question on any agreement on the understanding reached at on the construction of more nuclear power plants in Pakistan by China, he said the cooperation in field of civilian nuclear technology between Islamabad and Beijing and China was an ongoing cooperation and it started before China became the member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a global body that regulated the issues related to nuclear proliferation and commerce.