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Afghanistan urges Pakistan to ‘influence’ Taliban for ceasefire

KABUL: Afghan President’s Special Envoy for Pakistan Affairs Mohammed Umer Daudzai has said that Kabul wants Islamabad to play the same role in facilitating an agreement between the government of Asfhraf Ghani and the Taliban as it did in the Doha pact which was possible due to Pakistan’s cooperation.

“The agreement between the Taliban and the US, there was serious Pakistan cooperation in it and the US thanked Pakistan. Now we, as their brothers and sisters, expect Pakistan to do the same between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban,” he said.

About the role of government in Islamabad, Daudzai said that Afghanistan has its expectations from Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban, to consistently come to a negotiation table and also to follow the negotiation on a result base.

“The other thing we expect [from Pakistan] is to again use influence over Taliban to agree to a ceasefire,” the Afghan envoy said.

This peace effort, he said, is different from the earlier efforts as the animosity between the Taliban and the US are over. “The Taliban used to claim that Afghanistan is occupied by the US and as long as it continues we will fight. Now they have signed an agreement in February last year in Doha which means their problem is over, they have overcome their problem but now they have continued to fight against the Afghanistan government forces.”

When asked if both countries can deal with challenges on their own, he said that since 2018, a framework has been developed, specifying areas of cooperation. “The first one is state-to-state friendship and cooperation. The second is Pakistan’s cooperation in the peace process, third is the trade and transit, the fourth one is counter-terrorism and the fifth one is refugee return.”

When asked if Afghanistan is ready to connect itself to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and facilitate Pakistan reach out to Central Asia, Daudzai said that some of them are already happening. “Maybe not fully but to a large extent we are doing it.”

However, he added that in return Afghanistan expected Pakistan to allow full access to India through Wagah. “That is being discussed and I am not saying they are not giving it to us, we are in the middle of a process that we get access to India and Pakistan gets full access to Central Asia.”

On his expectations about the ongoing peace process, the Afghan envoy summed up saying, “a new game is shaped but it’s not yet changed. Soon it will be changed”.

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