Pak-Afghan agree on JRP ahead of planned US troops reduction

Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to form a Joint Reconciliation Commission comprising the Foreign Ministers and military and intelligence officials.

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2011, 23:55 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan and Afghanistan have
agreed to form a Joint Reconciliation Commission comprising
the Foreign Ministers and military and intelligence officials
as part of enhanced bilateral consultations in the run-up to
the reduction US troops in the war-torn country.

The decision to form the joint commission was
announced yesterday at a news conference by Foreign Minister
Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his visiting Afghan counterpart
Zalmay Rassoul here.

The commission will have two tiers, one comprising
the Foreign Ministers and another consisting of
representatives of the foreign ministries, military and
intelligence services, Qureshi said.

Kabul and Islamabad have stepped up consultations,
especially on Afghanistan?s reconciliation process with the
Taliban, ahead of American plans to scale down its military
presence in Afghanistan from July this year.

The US plans to completely withdraw its troops by
2014.

The reintegration and reconciliation efforts in
Afghanistan are part of an Afghan-led process and Pakistan
will facilitate and assist these moves, Qureshi said.

The two sides decided to form the joint commission as
there was a need for a formal mechanism for consultations by
the "political, military and intelligence components", he
said.

Rassoul said the Afghan peace process comprised two
parts reintegration and reconciliation.

The Afghan government is now involved in reintegration
by "bringing on board foot soldiers which are not
ideologically linked to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups",
he said.

Reconciliation is only possible with those elements
who accept the Afghan constitution and women’s rights and do
not oppose education, he said.

Qureshi said yesterday`s meeting with his Afghan
counterpart also focussed on consultations for a trilateral
meeting with the US to be held in Washington next month.

"It was a useful interaction in building trust and
confidence and we agreed to jointly write a new chapter in
bilateral relations," he said.

Both sides reiterated their commitment to eliminate
terrorism, he said.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have a better understanding
of the culture, terrain, area and people in the
militancy-affected areas of the two countries and solutions
suggested by them could be "more result-oriented, Qureshi
contended.

The two Foreign Ministers decided to set up a joint
working group comprising trade officials to oversee the
implementation of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade
Agreement.

They also agreed to establish a process of
consultations to take steps to enhance connectivity, upgrade
rail and road links and improve communication facilities.

"Both sides agreed on the creation and
operationalisation of a two-tier joint body headed by Foreign
Ministers and Deputy Foreign Minister/Foreign Secretary to
support the peace and reconciliation process," the joint
statement said.

Addressing a news conference with Rassoul, Qureshi
said: Now that the US has agreed to a political process, they
have recognised the importance of reconciliation. It is
important that we have in place a mechanism which will promote
political engagement."

Rassoul said the Afghan government had "established
contacts with top Taliban leaders" to seek an end to the
decade-old war.

"You can`t make peace without contacts, but obviously
I can`t share the details," he said.

PTI