Islamabad: The first round of quadrilateral meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, US, and China will take place on January 16 to work out a clear and comprehensive road map for a meaningful Afghan peace process, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said on Thursday.
The efforts to facilitate the Afghan reconciliation were started on the occasion of the “Heart of Asia” Conference in Islamabad on December 9.
Diplomatic efforts will get momentum with the meeting to revive the dialogue process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Pakistan earlier brokered the first ever face-to-face talks in early July and the second round was cancelled after the death of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar was revealed in late July.
All stakeholders are now making efforts to end the deadlock in the process that was necessary to stop the Taliban’s Spring Offensive. The Taliban had launched the annual offensive in late March or early April.
Asif told the senate the quadrilateral meeting will clearly demarcate responsibilities of each stakeholder at all stages.
Talking about the Army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s recent visit to Kabul, he said the army chief carried a message to Kabul that the peace process would necessarily be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
“It was agreed that they will pursue peace and reconciliation with Taliban groups willing to join the process,” the minister informed the upper house of the parliament.
Elements that would still continue to pursue violence will be dealt, under a mutually worked out framework, he declared.
All eyes are now on the four-nation meeting that was seen very significant to explore ways for the revival of the dialogue process. (IANS)
New Delhi, Sep 29: Afghanistan Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah on Friday thanked India for its “generous contributions” in reconstructing the war-torn nation and slammed Pakistan for its role in destabilizing the country.
However, he added, Afghanistan would continue to extend hands of friendship to all its neighbours including Pakistan.
Delivering the 24th Sapru House Lecture here, Abdullah, who is on a visit to India to enhance ties between the two countries, said terror was a threat to all nations and that a stable Afghanistan would benefit all countries in the region.
He said Afghanistan faced some “serious challenge” when it came to its relations with Pakistan.
“The fact that there are groups based in Pakistan which are threatening the security of Afghanistan and (they) continue to receive support and continue to embark upon destabilizing activities and acts of terror in Afghanistan. That is a very serious challenge for us and for the whole region,” Abdullah said.
Referring to Pakistan, he added that there were some “very clear lessons in the past when some of the terrorist groups created for other purposes turned against those who created them and started to pose a threat and continue to do so.
“Our message is very clear: Afghanistan’s civility and prosperity is in the interest of the region. Afghanistan has no bad intention towards any neighbouring country.
“We have extended and will continue to extend hands of friendship to all its neighbours and countries of the region. And we expect reciprocation,” Abdullah said, adding his country would continue the dialogue process with neighbours to address common challenges.
He said countries needed to decide that “terrorism would not be used as a tool for foreign policy”.
Referring to India, the Afghan leader said its contributions had made a difference to lives of millions of Afghan people.
“Relations between Afghanistan and India, which are founded in the bonds of history and culture of both nations, have been strengthened in the past 16 years with your generous contributions that made a difference to lives of millions of people,” he said.
Abdullah added that India’s support in many fields including education, infrastructure and security had “contributed in its own way in stabilization of our country and pursuit of our democratic aspirations and also betterment of lives of our people”.
He said while he was supposed to arrive in India a day earlier, his visit was delayed “because of the terrorist attack on Kabul International Airport”.
“But I was determined to come. Terrorist attacks may have caused us some delay but they could not stop us.”
He said while on one side there were aspirations and efforts of millions to create a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, on the other there were efforts of a “tiny minority” to destroy lives of people through acts of terror.
“But our wisdom says that human dignity will prevail and acts of terror would be condemned to fail.”
He said “terror is terror” and that there should be no differentiation when it comes to terror: “good and bad terrorist groups”.
Abdullah said Afghanistan can play its “rightful” role as a bridge between South Asia and Central Asia.
“We are working together – India and Iran have taken lead – towards operationalisation of Chabahar. We hope, as India has annouced, it would contribute further, that one year target of full operationalisation of Chabahar would be met.”
He said India, Iran, Afghanistan and other countries would benefit from this.
“We will witness the first act of operationalisation by receiving shipments of wheat through Chabahar in a few days time. But further work would continue,” Abdullah added.
Iran’s Chabahar port lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan. Once operationalised, India can bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan.(IANS)
New Delhi, Sep 26: India on Tuesday, made clear that it will not send its forces in the war-torn region of Afghanistan. “There shall not be boots from India on the ground (in Afghanistan),” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a joint media conference with visiting US Defence Secretary James Mattis after talks with him.
The Minister was replying to a question about India’s contribution in Afghanistan and whether it would deploy its troops there.
Mattis is the first high-ranking official of the Trump administration to visit India amidst expectation from the US that India could change its stand on a possible military presence in Afghanistan.
US President Donald Trump while unveiling his new policy on Afghanistan last month asked India to help more with the troubled country, battling decades of the Islamist insurgency.
Sitharaman said India’s contribution to Afghanistan has been there for a very long time in development activities like building dams, schools, hospitals, roads and any institution which the country may require.
“We are also at the moment training their officials in good governance… India’s contribution has been there and we shall expand if necessary,” she said.
She also said India welcomed Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy and added she had “useful discussions” with Mattis on “how we can strengthen our cooperation bilaterally as well as with the government of Afghanistan in pursuit of our common objective of a peaceful, democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan”.
Mattis lauded India’s efforts in Afghanistan. “In particular, we applaud India’s invaluable contributions to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote Afghanistan’s democracy, stability and security. We seek to expand our cooperation in building partnerships across the region.”
Mattis said the two countries recognized the threat to global peace from terror and both agreed that there should be “no tolerance to safe havens for terrorists”.
“As global leaders, India and the United States resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge,” he said.
Mattis said both India and the US have suffered losses due to terrorism and “one aspect of this is universally shared by all responsible nations that there shall be no safe havens for terror”.
The US Defence Secretary did not name Pakistan but Sitharaman minced no words in saying that terror attacks in Mumbai or in New York originated from Pakistan.
“The very same forces which did find safe haven in Pakistan were the forces that hit New York as well as Mumbai,” she said.
She urged the US Defence Secretary to “speak out and raise this issue” on his next visit to Pakistan.
Replying to a question, Mattis appreciated India’s efforts along with the international community for increasing pressure on North Korea over nuclear activities.
The two sides discussed maritime security in the India Ocean and the Indo-Pacific region.(IANS)
Islamabad September 25: An Islamic State (IS), the flag was seen displayed near Islamabad which read “The Caliphate is coming,” slogan written on the flag, and was put up over a billboard Sunday on a major expressway in Islamabad.
Pakistan Interior Ministry authorities told that committee has been formed to investigate the incident. Pakistan authorities deny that IS may have established a foothold in the country.
Islamic State (ISIS) Militant Group to Soon have a Strong Hold in Southeast Asia: Report
“The group does not have an organized presence, resources or structure to be able to operate in the area,” Talal Choudhry, State Minister for Interior Affairs told VOA’s Urdu Service.
The IS terror group has taken roots in the mountain regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan since early 2015. It brands itself as the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K), a title that distinguishes the militant group in the region from its main branch in Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State threat in Pakistan follows recent media reports and activities by local IS affiliates in various regions that indicate the group has been making inroads in the country.(VOA)