ISLAMABAD: Top intelligence chiefs in Pakistan and Afghanistan to “increase cooperation to end the 17 years long war in Afghanistan.
During the meeting in which the decision was taken, the delegations headed by the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Afghan National Security Adviser Haneef Atmar also exchanged views on ways to encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiation table as the Afghan side showed serious concern at increased casualties in Taliban attacks, Daily Times has reported.
“Suggest us what incentives we should offer to the Taliban to persuade them to join the peace process,” Atmar asked Pakistani leaders in the high-level session at General Headquarters (GHQ) on May 27.
He also referred to President Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional dialogue offer to the Taliban insurgents in February that included the Taliban’s recognition as a political party, allowing them to open office, to remove names of their leaders from the UN sanctions lists, release of their prisoners, and to introduce amendments in the constitution.
The Afghan side, however, made it clear to the insurgent group that there would be no compromise on religious affairs, democratic system of governance, and the issue of human rights.
Taliban have not yet responded to President Ghani’s plan unveiled at the second meeting of the Kabul Process, which was attended by nearly 30 countries as well as international organisations. Pakistan has backed the peace plan but has maintained that reconciliation ought to be an ‘Afghan affair’ and that every country, which has contacts with or influence over the Taliban, should play their role as it is a ‘shared responsibility’.
The May 27 meeting also discussed the Taliban’s longstanding demand for direct talks with the United States. The Afghan NSA argued that “Taliban fighting has paved the way for the presence of foreign troops. There will be no need for the foreign forces if Taliban join peace process.”
The US has declined directs negotiations with the Taliban and urged them to sit face-to-face with Afghan leaders, whom Taliban consider as powerless.
Atmar also insisted that the Afghan Taliban have ‘provided space to the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and other Pakistani militants in the ungoverned Afghan regions’.
“Afghan Taliban indirectly pose threat to Pakistani security,” he said, during the meeting which was extended beyond scheduled, according to the source who was a participant.
Pakistani and the Afghan sides agreed on further discussions on the issue. Both sides agreed that the Pakistani and Afghan intelligence chiefs will hold further discussion on the peace process and will increase coordination, telephone contacts and will exchange visits. Reconciliation with the Taliban will be on the agenda of the joint working group of intelligence officials, which will be established under the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).
“Both sides have agreed to finalise the groups before the Eid-ul-Fitr and the meetings will start after Eid,” the source said. Five working groups have been operationalised for meaningful engagement, namely Politico-Diplomatic Working Group, Economic Working Group, Refugee Working Group, Military to Military Coordination and Intelligence Cooperation.