|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
'Military option open in Pakistan-Taliban talks'
June 07, 2008 01:11 IST
Pakistan on Friday sought to assuage Afghanistan's concern over the former's talks with local tribal leaders, stating that the country has not been negligent of its obligation towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who made a day-long visit to Kabul, said his country has not forgone the military option while pursing talks with the Taliban, aimed at ending militancy in the northwestern tribal areas.
"While pursuing the political tract, Pakistan has not forgone the military option, nor have we been negligent of our obligation towards peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have not, and will not negotiate with those who are unwilling to forsake the path of violence and destruction," Qureshi said.
Qureshi was in Kabul at the invitation of his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta. During talks between the two ministers, Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed on the need for broad-based and coordinated efforts to curb militancy and extremism, which they said posed a grave challenge to the security of both countries.
Talking to journalists along with Spanta after the talks in Kabul, Qureshi said, "I have explained that the recent peace deals in the tribal areas were not made with the militants but with the tribal elders, and are aimed at weaning the hard core militants away from those willing to negotiate."
"Pakistan and Afghanistan are facing the common challenge of terrorism and extremism. In Pakistan's view, peace is indivisible," he said, adding that his government did "not make any distinction between the interests of Pakistan and those of Afghanistan" while tackling terrorism in the region.
Later, both the ministers reviewed progress in the joint peace jirga process and reiterated that this will not be allowed to lose momentum. They also discussed the agenda of the forthcoming International Conference in Support of Afghanistan to be held in Paris between June 10 and June 14. The Pakistan foreign minister will be leading the Pakistani delegation at the meet.
Qureshi said Pakistan would shortly host the next meeting of the mini jirga in Islamabad. He said Pakistan would host the Third Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan later this year. He further said that Pakistan would join Afghanistan in calling for international aid to be channeled through the Afghan government, in accordance with its wishes and the needs of its people.
A day ahead of his visit to Kabul, Qureshi had said he would also take up the issue of missile strikes in the tribal areas by US-led forces in Afghanistan. However, there was no official word on whether the issue had figured in Qureshi's discussions with the top Afghan leadership.
Later, Qureshi called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss bilateral relations.
Qureshi said his visit was a message from the new government in Pakistan that "a new beginning has been made in the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which will be based in mutual trust and understanding for each other's interests and concerns".
He reassured Karzai of Pakistan's support for peace and security in Afghanistan.
Karzai expressed Afghan government's support for the government of Pakistan in its endeavours for regional peace and stability.
He said, "Events in one country affect the other, and prosperity and stability in one is not possible without prosperity and stability in the other".