Dawn | January 16,2014
ISLAMABAD: The Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz, called on Wednesday for ending external interference in Afghanistan and said that Taliban needed to be treated as stakeholders and not terrorists.
“Games big or small will have to be relegated to the single objective of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Mr Aziz said.
He was speaking at the Pakistan launch of a document, Joint Declaration on Regional Peace and Stability, prepared by regional groups of experts and policy-makers set up by a German political foundation, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).
The joint declaration presents a common vision of experts from different regional countries about post-2014 Afghanistan, which has been embodied in a set of recommendations. The main objective of the declaration has been stated as “eventually transforming Afghanistan into an asset for all”.
Mr Aziz said that Pakistan had been pursuing a hands-off approach towards Afghanistan and had no favourites there, but cautioned that Pakistani policy of non-interference would only pay dividends if other countries too stopped interfering in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has long been accused of siding with Taliban. Islamabad has always denied these allegations, but has failed to convince the outside world about its neutrality. It claims that it has abandoned the strategy of using Afghanistan as a ‘strategic depth’ because a stable and peaceful Afghanistan serves its interests better.
“Leave Afghanistan to Afghans and achieve the desired result of peace,” he suggested a workable solution to the Afghan imbroglio.
“Our policy of non-interference can only succeed if it becomes a regional policy.”
Sartaj Aziz said that instead of treating Taliban as terrorists, serious efforts were required to engage them as stakeholders.
“If Taliban are pushed to the wall, there will be no reconciliation,” he warned.
Separately speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Mr Aziz said that Pakistan maintained informal contacts with Afghan Taliban, but there were no official channels.
About the Pakistani Taliban, with whom the government is trying to start peace talks, he said groups recognising
the constitution and the government would be engaged, while action would be taken against others.
BORDER MANAGEMENT: Mr Aziz said that a key element of Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan was improving border management to end unauthorised cross-border traffic.
He said that Afghanistan and Pakistan were working together for increasing the number of border crossings and introducing biometrics and other steps for regulating movement across the border.