Sunday, May 19, 2013
Last Updated: 18 May 17:56 PM IST
30 November 2012Press Trust of India
ISLAMABAD, 30 NOV: Pakistan's strategic planners have decided in principle to remain closely aligned with Afghan Pashtuns instead of seeking new allies in Afghanistan ahead of the draw down of foreign forces in the war-torn country, according to a media report today.
“Retaining ties with the Pashtuns is a crucial security imperative for us,” a senior unnamed Pakistani official was quoted as saying by the Dawn ahead of Afghan foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul's visit to Islamabad today to discuss various possibilities with Pakistani leaders on furthering the peace and reconciliation political process in Afghanistan.
“It appears as if everyone's rushing to the exit and, therefore, we need to play our cards wisely to protect our own interests and pre-empt the 1989-like situation,” the official was quoted as saying.
Other proposals being pushed by Pakistan include a ceasefire as a confidence-building measure for the political process and holding the 2014 presidential elections as part of reconciliation.
Earlier this month, Pakistan released 12 to 14 mid-ranking Afghan Taliban detainees during a visit to Islamabad by the Afghan High Peace Council to show its commitment to the reconciliation process.
Islamabad's critics, however, pointed out that it had not released any of the top Aghan Taliban commanders in its custody, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
The insistence by non-Pashtun Afghans on conditions about accepting the Afghan constitution and renunciation of violence is being seen by Pakistan as “an attempt to keep the Taliban, who are opposed to pre-conditions, out of the reconciliation process”, the report said.
Former foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar had earlier this month told the Senate's defence committee that the best bet for Pakistan is to allow the Afghan people to decide their future by themselves.
He had advised against continuing the old approach of hoping for a “friendly government” in Kabul. While Pakistan still hopes for a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, hopes for any progress on the pact are low.
“The Afghans aren't enthusiastic about it,” the Pakistani official said, dispelling the impression that the two sides were on the verge of beginning negotiations on the agreement.