Karzai seeks Pak support for Afghan peace process

Karzai made the remarks when he telephoned Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, an official statement said.

Last Updated: Feb 21, 2012, 22:44 PM IST

Islamabad: President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday
underscored Pakistan`s importance in the peace process in
Afghanistan and sought Islamabad`s support for the
reconciliation process in the war-torn country.

Karzai made the remarks when he telephoned Pakistan Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, an official statement said.

Gilani assured Karzai that Pakistan "would wholeheartedly
support a peace process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-owned
and Afghan-led".

The Afghan President informed Gilani about his meetings
with Pakistani political leaders during his visit to Islamabad
last week and described them as "encouraging and
constructive".

Karzai thanked Gilani for the hospitality extended to him
during the visit for a trilateral summit with the Presidents
of Pakistan and Iran.

He also apprised Gilani about his telephonic conversation
with US President Barack Obama after his return to Kabul from
Islamabad.

The Afghan President met several prominent Pakistani
politicians during his visit to Islamabad, including Maulana
Samiul Haq of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, who is described as
the "father of the Afghan Taliban".

Media reports said an angry and frustrated Karzai
confronted Gilani`s delegation during bilateral talks in
Islamabad on Thursday and demanded that they produce Afghan
Taliban leaders for talks.

Karzai`s "language and tone flared to such an extent" that Gilani briefly halted the meeting, according to one
report.

In an apparent response to Karzai`s demands, Foreign
Minister Hina Rabbani Khar subsequently said Mullah Mohammad
Omar, the supreme commander of the Afghan Taliban, was not in
Pakistan and Islamabad could not ensure his participation in
peace talks. Khar said it was "preposterous" to think that
Pakistan could deliver Mullah Omar to the negotiating table.

She contended there was no "clarity" on the role that
Kabul wanted Islamabad to play in the Afghan reconciliation
process. The exchange between the leaders reflected the lack
of trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially with
regard to the peace process and efforts to engage the Afghan
Taliban. Afghan leaders have repeatedly alleged that Pakistan
is sheltering Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar.

Ties between the two countries plunged to a low last year
after the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chief
Burhanuddin Rabbani. At the time, Afghan officials blamed the
assassination on Pakistan-based elements.

PTI