ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday vowed to defeat ‘spoilers’ attempting to sabotage upcoming intra-Afghan dialogue, through cooperation with Afghanistan.
“Unfortunate rise in violent incidents on both sides of Pak-Afghan border is meant to derail Afghanistan Peace Process. Pakistan earnestly believes that both countries deserve peace and progress. Together we will defeat all spoilers,” military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar tweeted.
The resolve was expressed as the long-awaited intra-Afghan process moved further closer to its commencement with the release of the last group of six “dangerous” Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government.
The released prisoners were later flown to Qatar where they would remain under supervision until the end of November.
Kabul’s negotiating team was, meanwhile, expected to fly to Doha on Friday (today) for talks with Taliban.
Taliban spokesman says negotiations will be held on Sept 12
Taliban spokesman Dr Mohammad Naeem later in the night in a tweet announced the group’s readiness for talks.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan announces its readiness to attend the inaugural meeting of the Inter-Afghan Dialogue in accordance with the agreement reached between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States of America,” he said.
The spokesman in another tweet said the talks would begin on Sept 12.
However, the spike in violence in Afghanistan ahead of the talks has worried all international backers of the process. A surge in the attacks was particularly noticeable in Taliban-controlled territories, whereas targeted killings have risen in Kabul.
Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s convoy was struck by a roadside bomb on Wednesday in which 10 people were killed and another 15 were wounded.
Taliban denied involvement in the attack. But the Afghan government is sceptical about the Taliban denials and it believes that groups affiliated with the insurgency were behind the strikes. Some say the increase in violence had been orchestrated by the Taliban for gaining leverage at the negotiating table.
Pakistan insists that violence was the handiwork of the ‘spoilers’ who do not want the peace process to succeed and those elements are carrying out attacks in both countries.
Officials says Pakistan has facilitated the peace process and was instrumental in the signing of the US-Taliban deal in February that paved the way for intra-Afghan talks, getting the ceasefire on the occasion of Eidul Azha, and breaking the stalemate over prisoners’ release.
Islamabad has time and again cautioned Afghan authorities about the spoilers. Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interview with Al-Jazeera last week, even went to the extent of naming India and said it would not be wanting the peace initiative to succeed.
At the Foreign Office weekly media briefing, spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said intra-Afghan talks should achieve “an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement” that could deliver “durable peace in Afghanistan”.
He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to continue supporting the Afghan peace process.
In reply to a question about the controversial statement of Mr Amrullah Saleh on the status of Pak-Afghan border, Mr Chaudhri said: “We believe that Pakistan-Afghan border is an internationally-recognised official border between the two countries in accordance with all relevant international laws and conventions.
“Such statements only serve to undermine the resolve for peace and cooperation between the two countries and should be avoided. We also expect that such statement will not be made in future,” the spokesman said.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2020