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Afghan peacemakers return home satisfied

Afghan peacemakers return home satisfied
By Hasan Khan
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-01-10

 

Pakistani Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan (right) shakes hands with former Afghan President and High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani (centre) before their meeting in Islamabad January 5. Members of the peace council are returning home satisfied. [REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood]

ISLAMABAD -- Members of the Afghan High Peace Council returned to Kabul January 8 expressing satisfaction and a sense of achievement from their trip to Pakistan.

Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chairman of the council and former Afghan president, expressed his colleagues’ perception that Pakistan was genuinely interested in solving the lingering Afghan conflict.

“I saw a great urge for peace at every level in Pakistan,” Rabbani told Central Asia Online.

He wants to bring his children to see a different Pakistan, Rabbani said.

“Pakistan is a changed country,” said Rabbani, adding that he and the rest of the delegation have had many interactions with the Pakistani Army’s senior leadership.

“I am fully confident the Pakistani military and civilian leadership seriously wants peace in the region,” Rabbani said.

Peace is in the interest of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, Qazi Amin Waqad, a former jihadi commander and another council member, said, pointing to their shared border, language, religion and culture.

Delegation convinced Pakistan will be peace partner

The delegation came away convinced of Pakistan's sincere desire to help solve Afghanistan’s entanglement, he said.

“We tell them ... if you take a step ... we will be with you,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ghani saidAll Afghans are brothers and the Taliban have a right to pursue their political agenda, but Taliban excesses have resulted in ongoing war.

The ball is rolling now, Arsala Rehmani, a former Taliban leader and member of the council, said.

“Pakistan …can play a good role in the process of reconciliation” because its leaders can influence the Taliban, Rehmani told Central Asia Online.

The reconciliation process started by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, will definitely succeed if Pakistan supports it, he predicted.

Former Kabul Governor Haji Din Muhammad also called his visit to Islamabad “a different one” from earlier visits.

“I hope if (the commitment) materialises, there will be peace in the region very soon,” Din Muhammad told Central Asia Online.

“We went to see religious scholars and leadership of different political parties, parliamentarians, and government and high military officials,” Mulvi Qiyam-ud-Din Kashaf, spokesman of the peace council, said.

“We ... want an honourable way for the Taliban to return home and participate in rebuilding,” said Kashaf.

The Pakistani leadership was equally committed to peace, Mohammad Jora, Turkmen representative on the council, said.

“There is no reason not to believe in their commitment. ... Pakistan hosted millions of (Afghans) when they became refugees,” Jora said.

Peace talks cleared up misunderstandings

Meetings with Pakistani leaders did much to clear up misunderstandings, Asadullah Wafa, deputy chairman of the council, said.

“Pakistan …can play a good role in the process of reconciliation” because its leaders can influence the Taliban, Rehmani told Central Asia Online.“We feel everybody in Pakistan genuinely desires to resolve the Afghan issue. ... They think Pakistan suffered socially and economically from the Afghan conflict,” Wafa said.

Both countries now show more understanding of the conflict, Ataullah Lodin, another council deputy chairman, said.

Peace is in everybody’s interest, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ghani said.

“Enough of wars; ... now our children want to live in peace,” Ghani told Central Asia Online.

“We tell them ... if you take a step ... we will be with you,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ghani said“We tell them ... if you take a step ... we will be with you,” he said, quoting Pakistani assurances to the council.

r, senior journalist Ahmed Rashid, an observer of Afghanistan, advised restraint before attaching any expectations to the council.

“Let’s wait (to see) what the council members say when they reach Kabul,” Rashid told Central Asia Online.

However, Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Sadiq Khan called the visit highly important.

“It (the visit) manifested Afghanistan is giving high importance to Pakistan ... and Kabul understands and gives weight to Pakistan’s support in the process of reconciliation,” Sadiq told Central Asia Online.

The big achievement of the visit is the understanding between Pakistan and Afghanistan on forming a bilateral mechanism to negotiate with the Taliban, said Sadiq, reputed to be the architect of Pakistan’s new Afghan policy.

http://www.centralasiaonline.com/cocoon/caii/xhtml/en_GB/pakistan-features/caii/features/pakistan/main/2011/01/10/feature-01

 
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