Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discussed with him vital matters pertaining to the country’s internal and external security with focus on efforts afoot to bring peace and stability back to war-torn neighbouring state of Afghanistan.
It was on Sunday that Nawaz sent his top adviser on foreign policy and national security, Sartaj Aziz to Kabul to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai and extend to him an invitation to visit Islamabad for discussions on important bilateral and regional issues with focus on Afghanistan reconciliation process.
However, President Karzai came up with a lukewarm response to Pakistan’s invitation that led to disappointment among Pakistani authorities in Islamabad.
“The efforts of the international community as well as Pakistan’s key role of facilitator in Afghanistan reconciliation process was discussed as priority item in the army chief’s meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz,” said an official privy to the high-level consultations on condition of anonymity.
He said the prime minister and the army chief resolved to continue with all possible assistance for a meaningful peace dialogue between Kabul, Washington and the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban but they also resented the non-cooperative attitude of President Karzai.
The Afghan president blames Pakistan for sidelining him and working to facilitate direct talks between the US officials and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.
Pakistan denies these allegations and says it favours talks between all Afghan groups, including the Taliban and the Karzai administration.
Karzai raised his objections to the title of “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and flag that the Taliban used for their office after it was opened in Doha last month. Karzai’s opposition led to the collapse of the Doha Process and the Taliban also announced shutting their office early this month.
The official said Pakistani authorities wanted to allay the concerns of President Karzai during his proposed visit to Islamabad and they also aimed at normalizing strained ties with Kabul but with the Afghan president showing lack of interest in early trip to Islamabad, any movement ahead in the Afghanistan reconciliation process in near future seems a distant possibility.
He said the army chief also had discussions with the prime minister on internal security situation as well as proposed peace talks with the Hakimullah Mehsud-led Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“It was a resolve at the prime minister and the army chief’s meeting that talks would be held with those willing to shun the path of violence but stern action would be taken against the terrorists bent upon destabilising the country,” he said.
He said the prime minister also took General Kayani into confidence over his government’s steps for improvement in relations with India.
Another official, who also sought anonymity, said Nawaz, in his meeting with General Kayani, also talked about his government’s new energy policy to overcome the grave energy crisis and said that he and his government were taking all possible steps to overcome the serious economic problems being faced by the country.
He said according to his information there was no discussion on the appointment of a new army chief during the meeting between the prime minister and General Kayani.