Afghan president’s visit to cement ties with Pakistan: envoy

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Islamabad (Staff Reporter+DNA)Muhammad Omar Daudzai, the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, said that he was confident President Karzai's upcoming tour to Pakistan would yield positive results for the peace process and bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries more generally.

In a recent interview he said, relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have long been strained over a variety of security and economic issues. Nevertheless, since an attempt to jumpstart peace talks between Kabul, Washington, and the Taliban failed in June after the controversy surrounding the opening of the insurgent group's political office in Qatar, the Pakistanis have been a key player in plans to bring the militants back to the negotiating table.

Many in Afghanistan, however, remain skeptical of Islamabad's commitment to the peace process and continue to suspect Pakistani support for insurgent activities inside Afghanistan.

For his part, Ambassador Daudzai was confident in the positive potential of President Karzai's trip to Islamabad on August 26. He said he believed the trip would accelerate stalled peace talks with the Taliban.

"The Afghan government submitted a plan to the Pakistani government in which it was asked to undertake a number of vital steps that include supporting the peace negotiation process, paving the road for talks between the High Peace Council (HPC) and the Taliban, releasing of key Taliban commanders and ensuring the participation of Pakistani religious scholars in the grand meeting of Islamic scholars from the Muslim world," Amassador Dawoudzai told Tolonews in an exclusive interview.

While there has been no sign from Islamabad that its officials are willing to release detained Taliban leaders, Dawoudzai was hopeful that this visit would help in reaching an agreement on the issue. Officials have not spoken about the strategy behind the release request, but it is presumed that they want certain Taliban leaders to be freed in order to make them available for negotiations as well as to show a sign of goodwill to the militant group ahead of talks.

"Prior to this, negotiations were taking place between the U.S. and the Taliban, but now we want these negotiations to be an inter-Afghan dialogue, and if Pakistan honestly contributes in paving the way for negotiations with the Taliban, the process will be an Afghan-led process," Dawoudzai said.

Meanwhile, a number of influential Afghan political figures have spoken out about the trip with skepticism, casting doubt on its potential for any kind of significant success with regard to the peace process.

22 Aug 2013

Muhammad Omar Daudzai, the Afghan Ambassador is talking with President Hamid Karzai (File Photo)