By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said any reservations Afghanistan has with Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally rather than involving the United States.
The foreign minister’s remarks were in reference to part of a joint US-Afghan declaration on peace efforts signed on Saturday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a ceremony to coincide with the signing in Doha of an agreement between the Taliban and US.
“The United States is committed to facilitating discussions between Afghanistan and Pakistan to work out arrangements to ensure neither country’s security is threatened by actions from the territory of the other side,” one of the clauses of the declaration reads.
“They should talk directly to Pakistan. The US is planning to withdraw, and we will always remain neighbors,” Qureshi said in an interview, referring to Washington’s intent to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. “If I have an issue with Afghanistan, I will not ask Washington to play a role. You know a trust deficit has existed and Pakistan has done its best to bridge that trust deficit,” Qureshi said, adding that there are institutionalized mechanisms through which Afghanistan can raise any issue under the sun instead of turning to the US.”
He said the US-Taliban agreement in Doha would never have happened if Pakistan had not convinced everyone that there was no military solution to the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan had facilitated the accord by persuading both the Taliban and the US to find out a political settlement, adding that getting both sides to see this had not been easy. “We convinced the Taliban to put forward an authoritative delegation that has the capacity to implement what they agree upon, and that wouldn’t have happened without Pakistan’s facilitation,” Qureshi said.
“That was another demonstration of facilitation,” Qureshi said, adding: “You required someone who enjoyed the confidence of the leadership to engage [with the US] that would make the talks possible. He [Baradar] played a very positive role.” Qureshi said Pakistan played a part in pushing for the negotiation process to restart after US President Donald Trump pulled the plug on negotiations in September last year.