Afghan peace plan: Gilani arrives in Kabul

Muhammad Tauseef A. Bajwa

Senator (1k+ posts)
Afghan peace plan: Gilani arrives in Kabul
Published: April 16, 2011

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will be accompanied by Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani arrived in Kabul for a day long visit to the Afghan capital, on Saturday.

Speaking to the media before his departure, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan wanted a stable, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan, and to help it resolve its issues.

Gilani is expected to discuss bilateral relations and the regional situation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

He is being accompanied by Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Director General Inter Services Intelligence Ahmed Lt. Gen Shuja Pasha and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.
Updated from print version (below)

PM, military brass to set off on mission Kabul
Amid a lot of talk in the air about the prospects of working out a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Pakistans top civilian and military leadership will be travelling to Kabul today (Saturday) to discuss the decade-old imbroglio and a possible way out.

The unprecedented joint visit by the military brass and the countrys chief executive comes amid escalating diplomatic tensions between Pakistan and the United States on one hand and growing understanding between Islamabad and Kabul on the other.

The tour also follows a trip to Ankara by President Asif Ali Zardari where he and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul agreed to back the reconciliation plans in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will be accompanied by Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha on a day-long trip to the Afghan capital, said a senior Foreign Office official.

The presence of the military brass in the premiers entourage is meant to dispel the impression that the countrys political and military leadership are not on the same page on key security issues, including the Afghan reconciliation process, the official told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday sought an explanation from the government regarding the mandate of the ISI chiefs visit to Washington.

Gilani is touring Kabul at the invitation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss the current situation with a focus on finding an end to the decade-old war.

Ahead of the trip, British Prime Minister David Cameron phoned his Pakistani counterpart on Friday to discuss the prospects of a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Britain has the largest number of troops involved in combat operations in Afghanistan after the United States.

Both leaders discussed the prime ministers forthcoming visit to Kabul on April 16 and the prospects of a political settlement to pave the way for the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan, said a press statement from Gilanis media office.

Besides other things, Cameron also said that his government is considering resuming British Airways flights to Pakistan to help reinvigorate friendly ties between the two countries.

Gilanis trip has assumed greater significance against the backdrop of strained Pakistan-US ties, which could impede progress in Afghanistan.
We (Pakistan and Afghan-istan) have been making serious efforts to put up a joint stand on the Afghan endgame, said another official.

He said Premier Gilani and President Karzai would be looking forward to achieving minimum consensus on issues that are at the heart of the problem. The presence of the military and intelligence officials from both sides will help a great deal to achieve that objective, the official added.

Relations between Islamabad and Kabul have shown signs of improvement in recent months. In January this year, the two countries took a major step forward when they formed a joint commission to work out modalities for holding direct negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan supports an Afghan-led reconciliation process. It has already said to be backing a proposal that seeks the establishment of a Taliban office in Turkey. Islamabad also favours Kabuls idea of removing the names of top Afghan Taliban leaders from the terror list of the United Nations.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2011.

Muhammad Tauseef A. Bajwa

Senator (1k+ posts)
Pakistan, Afghanistan set up joint commission to pursue peace

Pakistan, Afghanistan set up joint commission to pursue peace

By Shumaila Andleeb | APP


Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani being welcomed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on his arrival at Presidential Palace on Saturday. Photo by APP

KABUL: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Saturday agreed on the formation of a joint commission to carry forward the reconciliation process, following the withdrawal of foreign troops from the insurgency-torn country.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who held exhaustive talks here at the Presidential Palace, described the parleys as historic, saying that the two countries stand together as they have shared destinies.
Prime Minister Gilani said that he in consultations with President Karzai, Chairman Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani and members of the High Peace Council, had agreed to establish the two-tier Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for facilitating and promoting reconciliation and peace.
The first tier of commission will include the chief executives, foreign ministers along with chiefs of the military and intelligence services of the two countries while the second tier will comprise senior officials of foreign ministries, military and intelligence services.
I have assured President Karzai that Pakistan strongly supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process for reconciliation and peace, Gilani said.
He also extended Pakistans full support to the efforts of President Karzai and the High Peace Council, for initiating an inclusive process of grand national reconciliation in which all Afghans not only have a stake but the process also promises the future peace and stability in their country.
We firmly believe that this process must have full Afghan ownership, Prime Minister Gilani said and added that it was for the Afghan nation to determine the parameters on which a reconciliation and peace process would be shaped.
Conditions, qualifications or demands at this stage, in our view, may not be helpful, he added.
He said that the restoration of stability and peace in Afghanistan was essential for peace, security and well-being of the people of Pakistan.
To a question about President Asif Ali Zardaris recent statement wherein he warned that a destabilized Afghanistan could have a negative impact on Pakistan, Gilani said he fully endorsed the views. He said his visit was particularly aimed at working out a common strategy to jointly fight terrorism that was a threat to both the nations.
Asked whether the United States (US) was on board regarding the Pak-Afghan talks, Prime Minister Gilani said the US is on-board. Thats our core group and whatever will be decided, will be among Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US.
President Karzai, while speaking on the tripartite arrangement, said that his country welcomed consultations with the United States in this regard.
He said Pakistans role as a facilitator was also important and added that whatever Prime Minister Gilani said was a fundamental shift of Pakistan from its views in the past.
We today have clarity, which never existed earlier, Karzai said.
Gilani, when asked about al-Qaedas presence in Pakistan, said it is your countrys problem and you have to decide and set parameters.
About the role of the United States in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Gilani said whatever is the policy of the US on Afghanistan, Pakistan will support Afghanistan.
Gilani also strongly dispelled the notion that terrorists were entering into Afghanistan from Pakistan and said the two countries were already interacting at political, intelligence and defence levels and this cooperation would enhance in the days ahead.
Gilani said that he held in-depth consultations with President Karzai on the situation prevailing in the region and various initiatives that were being talked about for promoting reconciliation and peace.
I would like to laud the efforts of our Afghan brothers and sisters across length and breadth of Afghanistan to realize their legitimate aspirations for peace and stability.
President Karzai described the message from Prime Minister Gilani on the reconciliation process as very clear and important and added that the two sides held detailed talks on all aspects, including the situation in the region and bilateral political, economic and trade relations.
Prime Minister Gilani termed the drone attacks counter-productive and added that loss of precious human lives could not be just dismissed as collateral damage.
Gilani said similarly, suicide attacks, resulting in loss of innocent lives as well as attacks on places of worship were not only inhuman and barbaric but evidently designed to denigrate Islam and to sow discord among Muslims, communities and societies.
Prime Minister Gilani said his visit to Afghanistan was aimed at reaching out to the Afghani people. He said in his opening remarks that he was here to convey respect and admiration for the great Afghan nation and to renew deep-rooted bonds of fraternal solidarity.