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Pakistan, Afghanistan agree on blueprint for cooperation on Afghan peace talks

Islamabad, Sat, 17 Sep 2011 ANI

Islamabad, Sept 17(ANI): Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed on a blueprint for cooperating on the Afghan reconciliation process.


"We have prepared ground for action and practical measures will be taken in the next few weeks," Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jaweed Ludin said at a press conference, along with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, after a meeting at the Foreign Office of the working group of Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission on Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan.


However, neither Ludin nor Bashir said what collaborative steps they had agreed to take.


Pakistan and Afghanistan had launched the joint commission in June during Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Islamabad for backing Kabul's efforts to reach out to the Taliban. The working group comprising senior officials and representatives of militaries and intelligence outfits of both countries was set up to discuss modalities for cooperation.


Although it was not clear what concrete progress had been made in the three sessions of the commission and the working group held so far, there was clearly a marked shift in the role the two countries wanted the United States to play in reconciliation since the commission first met in June, the Dawn reports.


While there was a lot of emphasis on the US involvement at the inaugural session, after the latest meeting, neither side appeared to be keen about a US role, the report said.


While Bashir said that at the core of international efforts to facilitate reconciliation was the 'Pak-Afghan' process, Ludin stressed that it was the "strategic responsibility of both countries to take their affairs in their own hands" for dealing with challenges confronting them.


Ludin said that 'friends' were expected to help, but only an Afghan-led and Pakistan-assisted process could succeed, while all other processes needed to be streamlined into one unified effort.


Bashir also said that in addition to a facilitation role for Pakistan in reconciliation, both sides agreed to work together for addressing "other bigger issues".


Notwithstanding the improved understanding between Kabul and Islamabad on how to work together for reconciliation, differences over counter-terrorism appear to persist.


Pakistan raised the issue of sanctuaries in Nooristan and Kunar, from where militants, who had fled military operations in Swat, Bajaur and Dir, are attacking Pakistani border check posts.


But the Afghan side was not ready to accept the Pakistani position that militants enjoyed local support and that Afghan security forces avoided action against their hideouts, the report said.


Ludin said there was a full-scale war in eastern provinces of Nooristan and Kunar, and even went to the extent of criticising Pakistan's counter-terrorism record. (ANI)


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