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Thread: FM‚ NATO Secretary General discuss Afghan reconciliation efforts

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    Senior Member Express's Avatar
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    Pakistan Pakistan

    FM‚ NATO Secretary General discuss Afghan reconciliation efforts

    WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told US lawmakers on Wednesday that Pakistan was committed to working with a trilateral mechanism for promoting the Afghan reconciliation process.

    In a meeting with members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Ms Khar urged the lawmakers to understand Pakistan’s “priorities, concerns and constraints”.

    She said Pakistan wanted to have a genuine dialogue with the US on Afghanistan and was committed to “using the existing trilateral mechanism to promote an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process”.

    The mechanism includes the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    “Instability in Afghanistan threatens Pakistan more than any other nation on earth. Pakistan is a critical part of the solution to the Afghan dilemma and the notion that Pakistan is part of the problem is wrong and must be corrected,” she said.

    The foreign minister assured US senators that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan was central to both the short and long term interests of Pakistan.

    Foreign Minister Khar was accompanied by Ambassador Sherry Rehman. On the US side, the committee’s chairperson Senator Dianne Feinstein, Vice Chairman Senator Saxby Chambliss and Senators Richard Burr, Dan Coats, Bill Nelson, M. Rubio, and James Risch attended the meeting.

    The foreign minister told the Senators that Pakistan attached great importance to its relationship with the US and the people of Pakistan wanted their contributions and sacrifices in fighting terrorism recognised and appreciated.

    “It’s important that Pakistan’s priorities, concerns and constraints are better understood by the US,” she said.

    In an earlier meeting, she reviewed the state of economic collaboration and US assistance projects in Pakistan with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. Terming the US assistance an investment in the future of the relationship, she particularly appreciated USAID projects in the energy sector and road infrastructure.

    Large signature projects, the minister pointed out, could be important symbols of the good that Pakistan-US partnership had brought to the people of Pakistan.

    She also stressed the need for timely release of funds and for greater coordination and synergy in project implementation between USAID and the Pakistan government.

    She said that Pakistan favoured early convening of the working groups on economy and finance, trade and market access, energy, and water, to intensify collaboration.

    Administrator Rajiv Shah apprised the minister of USAID’s operational difficulties in Pakistan and urged the government of Pakistan to address these to ensure smooth and effective delivery of the assistance.

    Meeting with Ms Clinton
    The State Department has said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Khar will discuss a full range of issues and expressed the hope that the bilateral talks will bring counter-terrorism cooperation “back up and running fully”.

    State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told a briefing that the minister’s was a “long-expected visit and is not linked to protests in Pakistan and other Muslim countries over a blasphemous video”.

    Ms Khar, who is on a four-day official visit to the US, is expected to meet Ms Clinton On Friday.

    Asked if the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue could be revived during this visit or on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the spokesperson said: “I know that the secretary and foreign minister Khar are going to be speaking. I don’t have anything else for you with regard to that.”

    Responding to another question, Ms Nuland said the US had been satisfied with the security arrangements Pakistan had made to protect US assets and personnel during protests against the anti-Islam video.

    Khar says Pakistan committed to Afghan reconciliation | DAWN.COM

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    Senior Member Mirza44's Avatar
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    Pakistan Kyrgyzstan

    FM‚ NATO Secretary General discuss Afghan reconciliation efforts

    NATO has assured that it regards Pakistan as an important player regionally and globally

    NATO has assured that it regards Pakistan as an important player regionally and globally and is committed to turning bilateral relationship into a strategic partnership
    The assurance was conveyed by NATO Secretary-General Andre Fogh Rasmussen during a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in Brussels on Monday.

    He said NATO wants to reinvigorate its political dialogue with Pakistan and to move beyond 2014.

    Appreciating Pakistan's role in the fight against terrorism and extremism‚ the NATO Secretary General said the two sides had a common stake to jointly work towards creating an environment necessary for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

    He lauded Pakistan's response to the recent visit of High Peace Council and for playing a very positive and strong role for political reconciliation in Afghanistan.

    Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan is committed to working closely for the common objective of peace and stability in the region particularly in Afghanistan.

    She said Pakistan is making all efforts to build trust with Afghanistan at all levels.

    Foreign Minister also addressed the North Atlantic Council and briefed its members on the regional situation with particular reference to Pakistan's efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

    The members of the Council lauded Pakistan's resolve against terrorism‚ and acknowledged its sacrifices in this regard.

    They also hailed Pakistan for enduring the burden of refugees and welcomed Pakistan's emphasis on improving relations with its neighbors particularly with Afghanistan and India.

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    Pakistan United Arab Emirates

    Afghan Taliban, US revive reconciliation talks in Qatar: Karzai

    KABUL: The Afghan Taliban and the United States have been holding talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.

    The Taliban suspended the talks one year ago, saying Washington was giving mixed signals on the nascent Afghan reconciliation process.

    “Senior leaders of the Taliban and the Americans are engaged in talks in the Gulf state on a daily basis,” Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women’s Day.

    But the Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, said no progress had been made since the talks were suspended.

    “The Taliban strongly rejects Karzai’s comments,” he said.

    The Kabul government has been pushing hard to get the Taliban to the negotiating table before most US-led Nato combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

    Afghan officials have not held direct talks with the militants, who were toppled in 2001 and have proven resilient after more than a decade of war with Western forces.

    Afghan Taliban, US revive reconciliation talks in Qatar: Karzai | World | DAWN.COM

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    Re: Afghan Taliban, US revive reconciliation talks in Qatar: Karzai

    And at the same time, we see the taliban taking credit for the suicide attack in kabul when chuck hagel came

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    Senior Member Amjad Hussain's Avatar
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    Pakistan Pakistan

    China fosters Afghan reconciliation

    This is not the first time that high hopes have been raised about a new beginning in Afghan-Pakistani relations, but the visit by the Pakistani foreign and security advisor Sartaj Aziz to Kabul on Sunday does look like a landmark event.

    The upbeat tone of a Xinhua commentary captures the new mood of optimism tin the regional capitals hat Aziz had a successful visit. The commentary makes an extraordinary observation: “The leaders of both countries [Afghanistan and Pakistan] realize that without enhanced cooperation they cannot hope to finally end the terrorist activities of the Taliban that have become a scourge in both countries.” It packs a lot of meaning.

    Interestingly, Aziz’s visit to Kabul took place within days of the reported detention of two key leaders of the Haqqani network by the Afghanistan intelligence (with the help of the Americans) but the issue didn’t cast a shadow on the talks in Kabul on Sunday.

    As I had noted earlier, this Haqqani operation very likely involved a back-to-back coordination between the Pakistani, US and Afghan intelligence. Equally, Kabul would be drawing satisfaction over the Pakistani military operations directed against the Haqqani network in Waziristan.
    Indeed, among the new factors at work, it must be noted that a major factor devolves upon the active role China has begun playing lately to moderate the Pakistani policies. Washington has been encouraging Beijing to become a ’stakeholder’ in the Afghan reconciliation process and China’s influence on the Pakistani establishment is considerable.

    Significantly, Aziz openly acknowledged this much in a major speech in Islamabad on Monday at a “Track 1.5 conference” (read ‘demi-official’) and pledged that Pakistan hoped to work closely with China in the period ahead.

    To be sure, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Beijing next week will be keenly watched. Broadly, Ghani visualizes — and Washington seems to be promoting — a trlpartite entente or friendly understanding involving China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    To quote the former US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad (who remains an influential opinion maker in Washington on Afghan developments), “President Ghani calculates that China’s interest in Afghanistan’s mineral resources, its broader geopolitical and economic interests in Central Asia, the Middle East and the use of Pakistan’s Gwadar port will lead Beijing to invest in Afghan roads, railways and pipelines, actualizing the vision of Afghanistan as a regional land-bridge or roundabout. To initiate a discussion of this issue as a high Afghan priority, Ghani’s first state visit will be to China at the end of October. Such a Chinese investment in Afghanistan’s economic progress is consistent withAmerican interest in Afghanistan…. As with infrastructure investment, Afghanistan is hoping that China will facilitate reconciliation talks between the Afghan government, the Taliban and the insurgency’s brokers in islamabad. Given the strategic nature of Chinese-Pakistani relations, Beijing is in a strong position to influence the policies of the Pakistani security establishment. In the past, Islamabad has played the China card in response to US pressure — a tactic that could be blunted by a US-Chinese understanding on reconciliation.”

    Partly at least, by encouraging China to play an active role in Afghanistan, the US hopes to keep Russia at arm’s length from the Hindu Kush and there is bound to be some frustration in Moscow on this account, as evident from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s caustic remarks in a recent interview. But then, Russia’s influence in Kabul has vastly diminished. Far more important for Washington will be Iran’s role.

    All in all, Tehran has taken a helpful attitude lately: a) It muted the earlier criticism about the US-Afghan security pact; and b) It has welcomed the formation of the national unity government under American tutelage as a sensible development that is conducive for the stabilization of Afghanistan.
    From the Iranian perspective, what matters are: i) preventing a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan; ii) curbing the spread of extremist ideologies; iii) ensuring the welfare and security of the Shi’ite communities in Afghanistan; iv) working for improvement of the security situation (which has a direct impact on drug trafficking and cross-border terrorism); v) fostering trade and economic links, especially communication links; and, v) harmonizing Iranian regional policies in sync with the overall progress of the US-Iranian engagement.

    India needs to take note of these positive trends and position itself on the ‘right side of history’. The apocalyptic view of the post-2014 scenario is unwarranted. Second, it is of the utmost importance that India takes note of the changing regional alignments.

    Needless to say, there has to be a far better understanding of the motivations that drive Pakistan’s Afghan policies today. From such a perspective, at the very minimum, the current Indian approach to Pakistan — giving a ‘free hand’ to the Indian army and inflicting ‘unaffordable cost’ and ‘pain’ on Pakistan, etc — simply doesn’t make sense. In short, India should behave as a responsible power.
    Of course, an ininterrupted dialogue with Pakistan would have been a major confidence-building measure in the recent year or two and would have enabled India to adjust to the new geopolitical realities, but better late than never.

    Again, Gwadar at the end of the day might become a key outpost in the Silk Road — rather than the pearl in a Chinese string around India, as our pundits imagined. Last but not the least, there is no point anymore to do breast-beating as regards the ‘return’ of the Taliban, et al, because there is a broad recognition within Afghanistan and abroad in the world community that it is only through a reconciliation process that enduring peace can be reached.

    Finally, there should be a belated realization that India indeed had a congruence of interests with China, which it stubbornly refused to accept and build on, laboring under the notion that China-Pakistan relationship continued to be ‘India-centric’ — whereas Beijing’s calculus had transformed.


    By M K Bhadrakumar – October 22, 2014

    http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakuma...econciliation/
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    Senior Member ArshadK's Avatar
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    Re: China fosters Afghan reconciliation

    I think Chinese involvement is essential for peaceful progress in the entire region

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    Re: China fosters Afghan reconciliation

    Quote Originally Posted by ArshadK View Post
    I think Chinese involvement is essential for peaceful progress in the entire region
    But will not be accepted by all parties(entire region).

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    Senior Member Red Dragon's Avatar
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    China China

    New Afghanistan president to make first visit to China

    Afghanistan's new president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai will visit China next week, his first official foreign trip since taking office in September, China's foreign ministry confirmed Wednesday.

    "We hope that the visit will help deepen tangible cooperation between China and Afghanistan, and show China's support of Afghanistan's steady transition and peaceful reconstruction so as to forge ahead the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation," said Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    The visit is set to take place from October 28 to 31, Reuters reported.

    "The fragile Afghan government aims to seek firm support from China to help [stabilize the country] against the backdrop of NATO's withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, since China, its neighboring country, has kept a good relationship with Afghanistan and already invested in certain areas in the country," Li Weijian, director for the Institute of Foreign Policy Studies under the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times.

    It is also necessary for China to help the smooth transition of Afghanistan after the withdrawal, because instability could pose a threat to China, Li noted.

    China has had and will continue cooperation with the Afghan government to help its economic recovery and the governance of the country, Li said.

    Separately, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation and the Jiangxi Copper Corporation reached an agreement with the Afghan government in 2008 to develop the Aynak copper mine. The investment is projected to be $4.2 billion.

    "No matter how close the bilateral ties are, China will mainly promote economic development in the county and is unlikely to give military support like the US and its NATO allies," Xiao Xian, a professor from the Institute of International Studies at Yunnan University, told the Global Times.

    http://www.ecns.cn/2014/10-23/139600.shtml
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    Senior Member Jameel's Avatar
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    Re: China fosters Afghan reconciliation

    China could be a great move for the Afghani economy

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    Re: China fosters Afghan reconciliation

    China's Afghanistan Challenge: Testing the Limits of Diplomacy
    Dirk van der Kley
    October 29, 2014


    In just two months' time, international forces in Afghanistan will hand over security responsibility to local personnel. In preparation for the handover, and the eventual withdrawal of foreign militaries, Beijing has substantially raised its traditionally low-key diplomacy in the country.

    China has pursued dozens of bilateral and multilateral diplomatic mechanisms with Afghanistan and surrounding countries that have focused on the issue of security. As I write in a new Lowy Institute Analysis, diplomacy is one of China's two major policy pillars in Afghanistan (the other is to substantially increase economic engagement).

    Beijing's key interest in Afghanistan is security. China wants to prevent the spread of terrorism, and in particular terrorist ideology, into the Chinese province of Xinjiang, as well to ensure that Afghanistan does not function as a strong base for Uyghur militancy. Beijing will not commit militarily to Afghanistan, so how will it use diplomacy to prevent new instability spreading to Xinjiang?

    Beijing will attempt to reduce the security threat in two main ways:

    1. Stabilise Afghanistan, or prevent further deterioration in the Afghan security environment
    .

    2. If 1. fails, limit the spread of new instability regionally and reduce the direct threat to Xinjiang.

    Beijing's direct influence in stabilizing Afghanistan is limited.
    It will commit huge levels of economic support. Diplomatically it is encouraging surrounding countries to contribute to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. But security will be left to Afghan forces and any residual foreign troops. The US will likely play the role of mediator in Afghanistan if necessary, as happened during the recent electoral deadlock.

    On point 2, Beijing has more diplomatic options. China maintains contacts with a broad range of actors and groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. Since the Karzai Government came to power in 2001, contact with the Taliban has often been via intermediaries. But more recently Beijing has reportedly rebuilt the direct links it had with the Taliban prior to the US invasion in 2001.

    Beijing seeks guarantees that Afghanistan won't function as a base for Uyghur militant groups. It also wants Chinese investments in Afghanistan protected from Taliban attacks. There are mixed views to how effective this approach will be. Some Chinese sources say the Taliban doesn't want to raise the ire of Beijing because this could complicate the Taliban's relationship with Pakistan, which has close ties to China. Others question the Taliban's commitment to China's requests. Insurgents have attacked Chinese resource projects in Afghanistan on numerous occasions, and in 2012 Reuters quoted a Taliban spokesperson saying it opposed China's largest investment in Afghanistan, a copper mine near Kabul.

    Beijing has also vastly increased its regional diplomatic footprint. China hopes to achieve a consensus on the Afghan issue among surrounding countries because they are at the front line of containing any new Afghan instability. What this consensus may look like is vague, but could include increasing regional cooperation on issues such as anti-narcotics and counter-terrorism, with practical measures such as intelligence sharing, joint military exercises and judicial or law-enforcement training (some of these already happen bilaterally or through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

    There are clear obstacles. Officials in Central Asian countries are suspected of close links to the drug trade. And there are long running concerns that Pakistan's security and intelligence services help shelter terrorists. Also, many countries in the region have antagonistic relationships with each other.

    Despite challenges, Beijing's diplomatic approach may suffice to quell the terrorist threat from Afghanistan. The number of Uyghur militants sheltering in Afghanistan (and Pakistan too) in all likelihood remains small, and the capability of external Sunni Uyghur militant groups to launch attacks in China appears limited. It would take a significant capability leap from these groups to be a constant operational threat to China.

    However, diplomacy, economics or military intervention cannot prevent the spread of terrorist and religious propaganda into Xinjiang. This was consistently identified by Chinese interlocutors in research interviews for my Lowy Institute Analysis as the greatest external threat to Xinjiang's stability.

    The Chinese Government probably hypes the ideological threat from abroad – as many governments do. Xinjiang's problems are overwhelmingly domestic, stemming from a disenfranchised Uyghur population that chafes under religious repression, economic imbalances and ingrained discrimination. But concerns abound that ideological messages could resonate with this group.

    The most prominent external Sunni Uyghur militant group, the Turkistan Islamic Party, undeniably encourages violence in Xinjiang and supports Uyghur separatism. Its media output has become more sophisticated in the past few years. Other groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda have also expressed ideological support for Uyghurs in Xinjiang, although this doesn't appear to have led to operational support.

    Chinese analysts understand the limits of diplomacy in regard to Afghan security, but it is seen, along with an economic contribution, as the least-worst policy option. Shi Lan of the Xinjiang Academy for Social Sciences sums it up: “Dialogue is the best choice we have for solving this issue. Of course, I feel it may be difficult to achieve results with dialogue, but we have to try.”


    Dirk van der Kley is a PhD candidate at Australian National University, focusing on Chinese foreign policy in Central Asia. Dirk previously worked as a Research Associate in the East Asia Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy and in China as a translator as well as in business development.

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    Think Tank Muse's Avatar
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    Re: China fosters Afghan reconciliation

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    China’s Uighur Unrest Is Opportunity for Afghans
    By MATTHEW ROSENBERG
    NOV. 5, 2014



    KABUL, Afghanistan — Since the British first tried and failed to subdue Afghanistan in the 19th century, stumbling into a costly Afghan war seems to have become a mandatory step for global power players. The Soviet Union did it in the 1980s, and the American battle here has passed the 13-year mark.

    Now, China seems to be taking its turn in coming to grips with Afghanistan’s role in its national security.

    No one expects China to be sending troops any time soon, even with the United States and NATO pulling out the last of their combat forces at year’s end. But China has taken a major step in formalizing closer relations with the Afghan government: Last week, it said it planned to provide billions of dollars in new economic and security assistance.

    That is being taken as good news by American officials, who have sought to encourage China to take a larger role in Afghanistan beyond just trying to develop the country’s mineral wealth. And Afghan officials, whose economy is in dire shape and whose government is struggling to pay its bills, are eager to find a new source of aid and investment.

    A major factor in China’s stepped-up involvement with Afghanistan is a growing alarm in Beijing over Islamist militancy among Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group from northwestern China, analysts say.

    Since 2001, a smattering of Uighur militants have fought in Afghanistan and elsewhere. And Chinese officials blame a Uighur separatist group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, for a spate of attacks that have killed hundreds of people in China over the past two years.

    Some experts say Chinese fears that the Uighur separatist cause might spread widely among other militant groups are overblown. But where some see unfounded fears, the Afghans have sensed an opportunity to secure a new, rich benefactor.

    Further, interviews with Afghan officials suggest that they also hope to use the presence of Uighur militants here to drive a wedge between China and Pakistan, which has aided and sheltered the Taliban in the past and is a longstanding ally of Beijing.

    In the past year, Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, has persistently flagged to Beijing each and every one of the dozens of Uighurs who it says were caught by Afghan forces fighting inside the country. And Afghan and Western officials familiar with the effort say that the intelligence agency has painstakingly prepared dossiers for Chinese officials, laying out evidence tracing the militants back to Islamist training camps inside Pakistan.

    The subject was atop the agenda last month when Rahmatullah Nabil, the acting director of the Afghan intelligence agency, quietly visited Beijing before President Ashraf Ghani’s first state trip to China, officials familiar with the negotiations said.

    Then, after a meeting last week between Mr. Ghani and President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Chinese officials said the two had agreed to jointly press the fight against Uighur militants.

    In the area of security, President Ghani expressed readiness and staunch support from the Afghan side in China’s fight against East Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorist forces,” Kong Xuanyou, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official, told reporters after the meeting, according to Reuters.

    Mr. Nabil said it was “a big achievementthat the Chinese government was now listening to the Afghans about Uighurs who were being trained in Pakistan.

    A big number of Uighurs were arrested, and during the investigation they were talking about where they received training, how they received training,he said in an interview before his most recent visit to China. “We think they are preparing themselves, which is a big issue for the Chinese.

    He added that the new Afghan government was trying “to manage” the issue, which is precisely what Mr. Ghani appears to have done during his visit to Beijing. There, China pledged nearly $330 million in aid through 2017, a sharp jump from the $250 million it had provided in the past 13 years.

    China also said it was planning new commercial investments along with an unspecified amount of increased security assistance. Afghan officials say that aid will go far beyond the limited help Beijing had previously provided, much of which focused on counternarcotics efforts.

    But in doing so, China will also take on bigger risks. So far, the Chinese government has found only trouble with its limited investments in Afghanistan. Its most significant investment to date was a $3 billion concession awarded to the China Metallurgical group to mine a rich vein of copper in an area south of Kabul that is thick with Taliban.

    That was seven years ago. And in the intervening years, the Chinese have done little to move forward with the project, put off by the threat of Taliban attacks and the general chaos of doing business in Afghanistan. Commitments to build housing for villagers who would be displaced by the mine and to build a railway line and a 400-megawatt power plant have yet to be fulfilled. Afghan officials have in the past year talked of possibly renegotiating the contract.

    Still, Mr. Ghani unsurprisingly struck a positive note about China’s newfound willingness to aid Afghanistan upon his return home last weekend.

    A closer relationship, he told reporters, would help Afghanistan toward becoming “an intersection for Asia, as it was during the time of the Silk Road.”

    Yet the importance of the ancient network of routes that connected Europe and Asia began nose-diving around the time the Portuguese mastered the compass, opening sea lanes that could connect the far corners of Europe with the outer reaches of Asia. It quickly became clear that the risk posed by pirates was more manageable than the bandits and unreliable tribes whose main source of wealth was plundering caravans as they lumbered across the mountains and deserts of Central Asia.

    The camel caravans were long ago replaced by trucks. But the banditry remains, and the raging Taliban insurgency has left stretches of the old Silk Road as dangerous as they have ever been. American projects aimed at creating what officials liked to call a New Silk Road in the past 13 years have yielded little beyond talk and misspent money.

    Mr. Ghani, in his comments to reporters, acknowledged that peace was needed to ensure any kind of sustained economic development in Afghanistan, be it spurred by Chinese renminbi or American dollars.

    Asked directly about whether he had asked China to become more involved in putting pressure on the Taliban — and in pressing Pakistan to do more to push the Taliban’s leadership to negotiate — Mr. Ghani was careful to avoid specifics. Instead, he spoke of the miseries of war and said, “We are tired of blood.

    Then he added, “The only one who can be effective in peace is the one who has good relations with all sides.”

  12. #12
    Senior Member Sinbad's Avatar
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    China seeks greater role in Afghanistan with peace talk push

    KABUL: China has proposed setting up a forum to restart stalled peace talks between Afghanistan and Taliban insurgents, the latest sign Beijing wants more of a say in its troubled neighbour's affairs as it frets about its own militant threat.

    Documents seen by Reuters show that China put forward a proposal for a “peace and reconciliation forum” that Afghan officials said would gather representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the Taliban command.

    The Chinese plan, discussed at a recent meeting of nations taking part in the “Istanbul Process” on Afghanistan's future, comes as U.S.-led combat troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan after 13 years of war.

    Despite the military's efforts to rout the Taliban and al Qaeda, militants remain a major force, launching regular attacks on military and civilian targets, and previous attempts to bring them into the political mainstream have failed.

    There is little to suggest so far that China will succeed where others have not, but its willingness to revive a bid to broker peace previously attempted by the United States indicates its role in Afghanistan is growing.

    China's proposal has not yet been formally announced because Afghan President Ashraf Ghani wants more time to see whether the Taliban and Pakistan are willing to join in, according to his aides.

    “This was a very, very important first step,” said Daoud Sultanzoy, a former presidential candidate and now adviser to Ghani.

    “Once all the pieces are in place ... at a mature and opportune time there will be declarations.”

    China says it is not seeking to fill a void left by the US year-end withdrawal, and it already has a footprint in Afghanistan with financial support for counter-narcotics training and agreements to exploit oil and copper reserves.

    Washington will also continue to be a major donor to Afghanistan and thousands of soldiers are expected to remain there in training and counter-terrorism roles.

    China and Afghanistan are linked only by a tiny and barely passable mountain corridor, but Beijing's bigger security worry is that Uighur militants, who want a separate state in western China's Xinjiang region, will exploit the security vacuum left after the bulk of Nato forces withdraw to step up their fight.

    Hundreds of Uighur fighters are believed to be holed up in lawless tribal areas straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan. Senior diplomats in Afghanistan said China's proposal took participants by surprise at a recent conference in Beijing attended by Ghani, who was making his first official trip overseas as leader.

    “Role of facilitator”

    One of the envoys sent Reuters a copy of the draft on condition of anonymity.

    “From the Chinese side it is a very positive attitude and they would invite the Taliban to China if Afghanistan agreed to it,” said an Afghan official who travelled with Ghani.

    “They are offering to take the role of facilitator.” Afghanistan blames much of its instability on Pakistan, accusing it of sheltering militants, and wants Islamabad to commit openly to a peace process.

    Afghan officials say they want a more public show of support from Pakistan, and are hopeful that the involvement of China, a close ally of Islamabad, will help bring it.

    “China was invited to play the pivotal role that it can because China has a lot at stake for its own stability. Also China has a tremendous amount of clout when it comes to Pakistan,” Sultanzoy said.

    The Chinese government did not respond to a request for comment. However, the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan stressed support for a peace process at a seminar in Kabul this week, taking the opportunity to remind Ghani of his promises in Beijing to fight militants threatening China.

    Pakistan said it was ready to work with Beijing and others, but wanted details of the process to be clarified.

    A peace deal is seen as the Afghan government's best hope for survival after the US-led combat mission that ousted the Taliban in 2001 ends, because its own forces will struggle to defend territory.

    Analysts said China may have a better chance of succeeding in restarting the peace process than the United States, because of its close ties with Pakistan.

    “There's no guarantee things will change, but it's certainly worth a try ... the relationship between China and Pakistan is much less tense than the US-Pakistani relationship,” said Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

    A spokesman for the Taliban offered no comment for this article, saying the group's political leadership would need to discuss the matter first.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Red Dragon's Avatar
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    China China

    Can China bring peace to Afghanistan?

    China is emerging from the shadows to pledge to play a major role in peacemaking in Afghanistan as foreign troops prepare to withdraw at the end of the month, writes guest columnist Ahmed Rashid.

    Beijing's efforts include an invitation for the Taliban to visit China.

    Yet sceptics may well ask whether China, which has never played such a mediating role outside its borders before, can succeed where the US, Nato and Afghanistan's neighbours have so far failed.

    ''For the past 13 years the US and Nato have been playing a major role in Afghanistan and we made a contribution and gave them support - but now with the US leaving, Afghanistan is facing a critical period,'' Ambassador Sun Yuxi, China's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the BBC.

    In his first interview to Western media, Ambassador Sun said: ''We are ready to do more, we want to play a bigger role.

    "We would welcome the Taliban in any neutral venue such as in China. We will make negotiations happen but the process must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led - the agenda must be proposed by President Ashraf Ghani,'' he added.

    Facilitating talks

    President Ghani has already visited Beijing to ask the Chinese to play just such a mediating role and to put pressure on Pakistan, which is a close ally of China, to let the Afghan government meet with Taliban leaders living in Pakistan.

    Islamabad's powerful military, which takes all major foreign policy decisions, has indicated it is willing to consider a peace process once the Afghans come up with one.


    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani paid a landmark visit to China in October
    Ambassador Sun said that China had already established several forums for discussion on how to bring in neighbouring states and others to support reconciliation in Afghanistan.

    ''One tripod involves talks between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the second is a group of regional countries called 'six plus one', which involves US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran and the one being Afghanistan. This group has already met twice,'' said Mr Sun.

    Another 'tripod' group that Western diplomats say has held several meetings, but which the Chinese are reluctant to talk about, is China, US and Afghanistan.

    This grouping is seen to be especially vital as the US withdraws from Afghanistan. The Chinese have said they will never deploy troops in Afghanistan, but they are certain to become the major power in the region.

    The US, which is undergoing a strategic shift away from the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, is not averse to a larger Chinese role if it involves keeping the peace and keeping out the militants.

    'Terrorism' threat

    The international forums being sponsored by the Chinese are trying to achieve multiple aims - to support reconciliation in Afghanistan, but to bring countries like India and Pakistan and Iran and Pakistan to the table to iron out their mutual rivalries which have stymied every peace process in Afghanistan since the 1980s.

    The appointment of Sun Yuxi, 63, who has specialised in Afghanistan since 1981 when as a young diplomat he helped provide Chinese arms to the Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviets, is a strong signal that China is serious.

    Fluent in English, articulate and friendly Mr Sun is clearly equipped with extraordinary powers from his leaders to make things happen.

    The reasons for this diplomatic outing by China, when it has never helped mediate an international conflict before, is the risks it faces from the south.

    Cheap Afghan opium is flooding China while Uighur Islamic extremists from Xinjiang have been accused of carrying out acts of terrorism. Hundreds of them are based in the badlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan and are supported by the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

    In fact China faces an increasing national security threat if militant groups continue to find sanctuary in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    ''We support a peace process because we are also victims of terrorism,'' says Mr Sun.

    Rebuilding north-south corridor

    ''Our larger strategy is also economic development - the construction of the Silk Road which includes Pakistan and Afghanistan,'' said Ambassador Sun.

    China is investing billions of dollars in a road and rail transportation network that will stretch from western China to Germany crossing dozens of countries.

    Afghanistan, rich in minerals and oil that China is a keen to exploit, is a critical part of that network.

    China wants to build a north-south economic corridor through Pakistan that would carry energy from the Gulf to the Chinese border nearly 2,000 miles in the north.

    China's funding of such mammoth projects could become a huge lure for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Taliban to come to the peace table.

    Diplomats describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kick-start the two redundant economies of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    More than $100bn (£64bn) will be involved in building the Afghan and Pakistani spurs of the Silk Route.

    China wants to exploit the mineral deposits of Afghanistan and is prepared to build a railway from Kabul to Xinjiang in China, while similar mammoth schemes are being prepared for Pakistan.

    But nothing will happen until the numerous wars in the region come to an end. That includes the insurgency in Balochistan, the violence in Karachi and the Taliban insurrections in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Much will depend on whether the Pakistan army is prepared to seize the moment and push the Afghan Taliban to the peace table.

    Diplomatic sources say the Chinese have already established their own contacts with the Taliban.

    However, China is unlikely to get itself involved in the nitty-gritty gritty of peace talks between President Ghani and the Taliban.

    It wants to make the introductions, provide a neutral venue and let the two sides get on with it, which is why China is now anxiously waiting for a peace plan from Ashraf Ghani and support from Pakistan's military.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-30273431

  14. #14
    Member greencold's Avatar
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    Afghan reconciliation: Senior Taliban negotiator visits Pakistan

    ISLAMABAD: A senior Afghan Taliban negotiator who had led the group’s delegation to Beijing is touring Pakistan for consultations amid reports that the ultraorthodox militia is willing to join the intra-Afghan peace dialogue.

    A Taliban official, who did not want to be identified, confirmed the visit of Qari Din Muhammad, a member of the Taliban team at the Qatar-based ‘political office’. The trip came amid growing speculation about possible peace talks in Qatar between representatives of the Taliban and Afghan government.

    Qari Din Muhammad, who has been involved in talks with several countries including China, was scheduled to hold ‘follow-up discussions’ with Chinese officials, the Taliban official said. When approached, an official at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad refused to comment.

    Earlier, in November 2014, a Taliban delegation visited the Chinese capital on Beijing’s invitation to discuss the possible role of China in the Afghan peace process.

    The trip was in response to a visit undertaken by a Chinese delegation to Doha.

    “Now we have a better understanding and contacts with China on many issues. We trust China more than any other country as Chinese leaders sincerely want an end to the war in Afghanistan,” said another Taliban official, who requested anonymity as the Taliban do not want to comment on-the-record until things mature.

    [​IMG]

    Beijing wants a proactive role in Afghanistan’s political process and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said last week that Beijing wass ready to support reconciliation efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

    “Afghanistan’s stability depends on an inclusive national reconciliation, which needs international support,” Wang had said during his visit to Islamabad.

    No contact in Qatar

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday that no contact has been established with Afghan government officials in Qatar.

    “There are no talks either with the US or the Kabul administration. However, we are in contact with countries, independent sides and organisations with whom we need to maintain relations,” the Taliban spokesman said when asked about reports about the initial contacts with Afghan government.

    Mujahid also dispelled the impression that there was any foreign pressure on the dialogue issue.

    An Islamabad-based diplomatic source also said that no contact has yet been established with the Taliban negotiator in Doha.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, meanwhile, continued consultations in Kabul to win backing for possible talks with the Taliban and said his government would not hold secret talks but would keep the Afghan people in the loop.

    “Peace cannot be established in the dark and away from the people’s sight, but it needs a transparent process with involvement of the entire nation,” a presidential palace statement quoted Ghani as telling a series of separate meetings with representatives of political parties, tribal elders, prominent figures, and civil society activists.

    Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2015.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/842260/a...sits-pakistan/
    The Following User Says Thank You to greencold For This Useful Post: Pak92


  15. #15
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    Re: Afghan reconciliation: Senior Taliban negotiator visits Pakistan

    It is good indeed to see Pakistan using its office to spread peace in our neighbourhood.

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    Abdullah says Taliban talks could start soon, militants deny

    KABUL: Afghanistan's chief executive Abdullah Abdullah said Monday that peace talks with the Taliban could begin in the coming days, though the militants swiftly dismissed the idea.

    There have been growing hopes in recent weeks of talks between Kabul and the Taliban aimed at moving towards reconciliation after more than a decade of war.

    Since President Ashraf Ghani took office in September, relations have markedly improved with Pakistan, which has long held influence with the Taliban, paving the way for possible dialogue.

    “Peace talks will inshallah (God willing) start in the next few days, this is in the interest of Afghanistan,” Abdullah said during a meeting of the country's Council of Ministers.

    Abdullah took the newly-created role of chief executive, similar to prime minister, as part of a deal to end a protracted election crisis with presidential rival Ghani.

    “The people of Afghanistan will be informed of the start of these talks, of developments and of when they end. “Abdullah hailed the visit of the army chief General Raheel Sharif to Kabul last week.

    “We welcome his statement saying Afghanistan's enemy is Pakistan's enemy," Abdullah said.

    “They said to those involved in the fighting, the Taliban, that they have no other option but to talk with the Afghan government. “But the militants denied that talks were about to begin.

    “We have repeatedly said that those reports, which were not announced by officials of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan and their formal sources, are not true, and baseless,” the Taliban said in a statement, referring to themselves by their preferred name.

    On Friday, Ghani also praised Pakistan for “recent efforts in paving the ground for peace and reconciliation."

    In the statement, Ghani cited two major recent attacks as helping to bring the countries closer together —one in Yahya Khel in Afghanistan in November that left nearly 50 people dead, and a Taliban massacre at a school in the Pakistan city of Peshawar in December that killed 153, mostly children.

    The Afghan president also said during a press conference with visiting US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Kabul on Saturday that conditions were ripe for a potential breakthrough.

    “The grounds for peace have never been better in the last 36 years,” Ghani said.

    There have been several attempts at starting dialogue in recent years between the Taliban, Kabul and the United States — the Afghan government's chief supporter — but with little success.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Pak92's Avatar
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    Afghan reconciliation – then and now

    My prognosis in an earlier blog two days ago, titled Chasing the chimera of Afghan peace was indeed just in time – where I suggested that US President Barack Obama should hold out as a ‘confidence-building measure’ the categorical assurance that the American troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn within a definite timeframe. An exclusive report from Reuters with Islamabad dateline since mentions that the Taliban leadership is disunited and once section is demanding an immediate departure of all foreign troops as part of a settlement.

    The report also suggests that Pakistani intermediaries are “working to find middle ground” but with no success so far. The unannounced visit by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman to Islamabad this week was apparently with a view to find out how to get around the roadblock.

    President Obama since held a video conference on Friday with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah. The White House readout said Obama “expressed his expectation” that the visit by Ghani and Abdullah later this month to Washington “will demonstrate our mutual commitment to a strengthened US-Afghan strategic partnership.” Plainly put, the establishment of the US military bases and the open-ended military presence in Afghanistan is the top priority for Obama.

    A fundamental contradiction arises here. For the Pentagon and the White House, a durable Afghan settlement (alongside a pliable leadership in Kabul) is a necessary underpinning for the open-ended military presence because if the fighting continued, American ‘body bags’ would keep returning home and domestic opinion would once again clamor for an ‘exit strategy’.

    The US has had remarkable success in piloting Ghani to the presidential palace in Kabul – although, he is still far from secure politically – but the Afghan peace talks must now somehow get started. On the contrary, the Taliban all along have made the withdrawal of the US troops a non-negotiable part of an Afghan settlement.

    So, it is now a battle of wits and will power between Obama (plus Ghani) on one side and Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar on the other side. At least, that is how Reuters projected the state of play. The key question, however, remains: Can’t Pakistan do something to get Omar to come around to accepting Obama’s game plan to keep the US troops in the region for the long term?

    Thereby hangs a tale. Of course, no one knows where Omar is. Secondly, the nylon threads that tie Pakistan and Omar are not visible to the outside observers. Most important, why on earth should Pakistan strain its back – or, put differently, what is on offer from Obama that would inspire Pakistan to render help?

    It is this last question that can unlock the looming stalemate. Surely, Obama would know what Pakistan’s expectations are. Pakistan is having misgivings about going forward with the peace talks when a) the power structure in Kabul remains wobbly and its ability to implement an agreement is far from certain; b) tensions in relations with India remain high and Delhi’s intentions in Afghanistan continue to cause anxiety – Abdullah is actually heading for Delhi on a visit in the weekend before traveling to Washington to meet Obama; c) US regional strategies (especially its perceived ‘tilt’ toward India) are jarring hopelessly with Pakistan’s security needs and regional strategies.

    Beyond that, a tantalizing question also arises: Who would Pakistan prefer as facilitator for peace talks – Washington or Beijing? To my mind, there is a far greater possibility of the intra-Afghan talks getting started if only the US simply stepped back from the centre stage and lingered in the shade, while persuading Beijing to assume the lead role as facilitator.

    To be sure, China has advantages that the US lacks – a) no Afghan blood on its hands; b) not an occupying power; c) trusted friend of Pakistan; and, d) a genuine stakeholder in the security and stability of Afghanistan. It is a safe guess that Taliban also would feel more comfortable with China’s mediatory role than the US’.

    What comes to my mind is the endgame in the mid-1980s as the Geneva peace talks began. The main difference between then and now is that the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sincerely wanted to disengage his country from the Afghan problem and let the Afghans work out a national reconciliation, whereas, Obama’s bottom line is ensuring the long-term American military presence, no matter the failure of the bloody 13-year war. For Gorbachev, the preoccupation was peace, whereas, for Obama, regrettably, it is geopolitics.

    Gorbachev made it clear in his very first meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow with the then Afghan leader Babrak Karmal (within just 3 days of his election as the General Secretary of the Soviet Politburo on March 11, 1985) that the Afghan national reconciliation must be genuinely ‘Afghan-owned and Afghan-led’. Unlike Obama, Gorbachev meant it. This is what he told Karmal:

    “Of course you remember Lenin’s thought that one criterion of survival for any revolution is its ability to defend itself. You, comrade Karmal, naturally, understand, as other members of the Afghan leadership obviously do, that Soviet troops cannot stay in Afghanistan forever…. It is necessary to achieve in practice a situation where the social and class basis of the new regime would be expanded, so that you could ensure the union of the party with various societal forces at the stage of the national-democratic revolution. It would allow you to stabilize the situation, consolidate the revolutionary gains, and begin to resolve more difficult tasks… It is necessary that it develop broad and solid ties with the masses…. In conclusion, I would like to say that the USSR will continue to help revolutionary Afghanistan, but the Afghan leadership must understand that with all our assistance the main responsibility rests upon them, upon the entire PDPA…. It would be nice, comrade Karmal, if by the time of our next meeting, the Afghan friends could achieve new progress and success in their work, about which we could talk then.”

    Despite a prompting by the then Soviet foreign minister Andrey Gromyko who attended the meeting, Gorbachev would not be drawn into any discussions regarding “the plans of the American imperialists, the Chinese hegemonists, the Pakistani reactionaries, and other forces hostile to us”. He was uninterested in the ‘great game’. He wasn’t planning to establish permanent Soviet military bases in Afghanistan, he had no use for Islamist groups as geopolitical tool, he had no ‘pivot’ strategy to pursue in Asia and he had no reason to remain ‘embedded’ in Inner Asia.

    Obama will do well to read the minutes of that candid talk in the Kremlin exactly 30 years back at a similar defining moment in the Afghan civil war by Gorbachev while preparing to recive Ghany and Abdullah in the White House later this month.


    By M K Bhadrakumar – March 13, 2015


    http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakuma...uncategorized/

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