BRUSSELS: Pakistan said on Friday it was willing to assist talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban because stability and peace in Afghanistan were in its own interests, foreign news agency reported. NATO and U.S. officials have also said they are ready to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, but Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the talks must be led by Afghanistan.
“They have to own it, they have to lead it. We are there to help,” Qureshi said in Brussels before talks on supporting economic development in Pakistan and fighting terrorism.”We are there to facilitate, because we want to see a stable, peaceful Afghanistan. It’s in Pakistan’s interest to have stability and peace in Afghanistan.”
A senior Pakistani official familiar with the contacts between the Afghan government and the Taliban said they had been made possible by the lifting of U.S. opposition. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week Washington would do “whatever it takes” to get the peace process on track.
“I don’t know whether these contacts will succeed or not but the process has been set into motion,” the Pakistani official said on condition of anonymity.”It’s just the beginning and this in itself is a success because earlier there has been (U.S.) opposition to such contacts.”-SANA