Pakistan and some other participating countries had opposed a Turkish proposal for creating a security mechanism that would have acted as an implementing and monitoring body for confidence-building measures related to Afghanistan. – Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: The top diplomats of the region meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday for a conference on Afghanistan are unlikely to agree on anything other than a non-binding declaration because of persisting differences among participating states over a deal on a structure for regional security.

Pakistan and some other participating countries had opposed a Turkish proposal for creating a security mechanism that would have acted as an implementing and monitoring body for confidence-building measures related to Afghanistan.

The proposal was based on the assumption that many of the Afghan security woes have origins outside its borders. However, Pakistan and some other countries, including Russia, China and Iran, wanted dynamics within Afghanistan to be addressed for a sustainable solution to the imbroglio.

Pakistan had essentially been pushing for support for reconciliation with insurgents and a political solution to the problem.

A Pakistani diplomat who had been briefed about negotiations on the outcome document expected the declaration, if the attending countries agreed on one, to be a general commitment to fighting terrorism, extremism and narcotics trafficking without any binding provision.

There was, however, no official comment from the Foreign Office in the pre-conference negotiations on the draft of the conference’s declaration.

The Istanbul Conference, the first in a series of international meetings aimed at facilitating a peaceful settlement of the Afghan problem, was meant to get pledges from key regional players to supporting a stable and peaceful Afghanistan by backing transition and reconciliation in the country.

Besides, the conference is expected to focus on regional economic cooperation in the shape of a proposed ‘New Silk Road’.

Lack of consensus in Istanbul bodes ill for the Bonn Conference slated for Dec 5, which would have built on the progress achieved in Turkey.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is representing Pakistan at the conference being attended by representatives from Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The US and some other western countries will also be represented at the regional meeting.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be able to attend the conference because of the death of her mother and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi would stay away because of differences with Turkey over the Syrian crisis.

The meeting is taking place against the backdrop of fresh strains in ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan following the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani.

The Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey summit held on Tuesday does not appear to have fully bridged the mistrust as revealed by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin’s media statement: “So we are at a stage where we need to move beyond words, beyond expressions of commitments. We need to get to a stage where we actually do concrete things that will address our concerns with regard to our security.”

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