Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assures Afghanistan to facilitate further meetings with Taliban commander Mullah Baradar.
KABUL: “I have assured my brother President Karzai that Pakistan would continue to extend all possible facilitation for the Afghan peace process,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Saturday, Express News reported.
He was talking at a joint news conference with Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. Nawaz is in Kabul on a one-day visit to Pakistan’s western neighbour to revive the peace process before Nato troops are withdrawn in 2014.
“In our view, the key to a sustainable peace in Afghanistan 2014 and beyond is an inclusive political settlement. That is why Pakistan has steadfastly supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process,” Nawaz stated.
Stressing the severity of the situation he said that “it is imperative to reverse the destructive cycle of conflict. This is the time to take decisive steps for moving forward the dialogue process and lead to a successful conclusion.”
When asked about the release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Afghan Taliban’s second-in-command, Nawaz reiterated that he has been released.
Nawaz promised that he would help arrange further meetings between Afghan officials and a former Taliban commander as part of renewed efforts to revive a defunct peace process.
“Mullah Baradar has been released. We have discussed this matter at length today,” Nawaz said. “Anybody who is sent (by President Karzai to Pakistan to talk to Mullah Baradar)… we will make sure that such meetings take place.”
An Afghan official claimed that Baradar appeared to have been sedated and unable to talk during his meeting with representatives of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council in Karachi 10 days ago.
“The Afghan High Peace Council delegation did meet with Mullah Baradar, but in practical terms they discussed nothing because he was drugged and was unable to talk,” the senior Afghan government official claimed.
“I have always placed a central emphasis on building a strong trade and economic partnership. Today we review the progress being made in advancing that goal and in developing a comprehensive multidimensional relationship that serves the long-term interests of our two peoples,” Nawaz stated addressing the economic ties between the two countries.
“In the regional context trade energy and connectivity are the essential components of our economic corporation agenda. [Afghanistan and Pakistan] agree there are huge opportunities promoting closer commercial energy infrastructure and communication links. We have commited ourselves to accelerating the realisation of trans-region projects including KASA 1000 and TAPI gas pipeline,” the premier further added.