ISLAMABAD: Military commanders on Tuesday called for early start of intra-Afghan dialogue by capitalising on the progress made in the peace process.
Military’s public affairs division ISPR in a statement on the 234th Corps Commanders’ Conference said: “Forum appreciated the progress of Afghan Reconciliation Process and hoped for early commencement of intra-Afghan dialogue.”
The meeting attended by corps commanders and principal staff officers was chaired by Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.
Prospects of intra-Afghan dialogue brightened after Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani on Monday issued a decree, on the recommendation of the Loya Jirga, to release 400 Taliban prisoners considered ‘dangerous’ by the Afghan government.
The stakeholders are, however, keeping their fingers crossed till the release of the 400 prisoners.
The talks were originally planned to begin from March 10 under an agreement between Taliban and US signed in Doha in February, but mutual distrust between Kabul and the insurgents and the resulting delay in prisoners’ exchange — a condition for the dialogue — kept delaying its start.
Kabul was to release 5000 Taliban prisoners, while Taliban were to set free 1000 security forces personnel.
The Ghani administration was particularly hesitant to release the last batch of 400 Taliban, whom they accused of carrying out high-profile attacks, but after Taliban insistence Afghan government got Loya Jirga’s approval for their release.
Pakistan played an important role in the signing of the US-Taliban agreement and had been persistently calling for the start of the intra-Afghan process.
The commanders also reviewed the situation on the border with Afghanistan. Over the past few weeks there have been reports of clashes between Pakistani and Afghan forces, which Pakistan blamed on the other side.
The situation at the Line of Control, which has regularly witnessed violations by India, too, was on the agenda of the conference. So far this year about 1,750 breaches have been committed by India in which 15 civilians have lost their lives.
The commanders deliberated on the internal security situation as well that has witnessed a gradual aggravation over the past couple of months with increased attacks on security forces in Waziristan region of KP province and Balochistan.
A suicide bomber reportedly hit a military convoy in Ladha (South Waziristan) on Tuesday. A bomb blast targeting a vehicle of a law-enforcement agency was reported from Chaman on Monday in which five people lost their lives.
Gen Bajwa had on Monday visited ISI headquarters for a briefing on the internal and external security situation of the country.
“The COAS appreciated the measures to optimise performance of ISI, ensuring that country responds effectively to threats across the spectrum,” the ISPR had said in a statement on Monday. The COAS expressed satisfaction on the operational preparedness of formations and appreciated efforts in aid of civil administration to contain Covid-19 pandemic and the locust threat.
“The COAS directed commanders to ensure necessary measures for public safety and security during upcoming Muharram in concert with civil administration, with due cognizance to Covid-19 guidelines and protocols,” the ISPR said.
Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020