Pak-Afghan ties should be based on trust: Khar

Pakistan has sought a trust-based relationship with Kabul that sets aside the past associated with support for the Taliban.

Islamabad: Rubbishing the idea that it was
desiring "strategic depth" in neighbouring Afghanistan,
Pakistan has sought a trust-based relationship with Kabul that
sets aside the past associated with support for the Taliban.

"If we are looking for any strategic depth it cannot be
achieved militarily or come through a proxy war. The only way
to do is through building trust with the Afghan state,"
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said.

She called for a relationship with Afghanistan based on
trust and for leaving behind the past associated with
interference in Kabul`s affairs and support for the Taliban.

"Recognise what we are doing now without overshadowing it
with whatever has been Pakistan`s historical baggage. We are
moving out of that hangover," Khar said at a meeting with a
group of Pakistani journalists yesterday.

Her remarks came a week after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani appealed to all Afghan militant groups, including the
Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami, to join the process for peace and
reconciliation.

Khar said Afghans should decide for themselves at the
level of the `Loya Jirga` or grand assembly about the broader
framework for peace talks.

"First they should have an intra-Afghan process to see on
what conditions they want to run the peace and reconciliation,
who do they want to run the process (for), what is the
timeframe they want this to be done," she said.

At the same time, Khar said all countries that helped
create the Frankenstein`s monster in Afghanistan a reference
to support for the `mujahideen` during the days of the Soviet
occupation should share the blame.

Pakistan has long been accused by Afghan and Western
officials of providing sanctuaries to militant groups,
including the top leadership of the Afghan Taliban and the
Haqqani network as part of efforts to retain influence in
Afghanistan and to counter what Islamabad perceives as India`s
growing role in the neighbouring country.

After his visit to Islamabad last month for a trilateral
summit of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, President Hamid
Karzai had said Pakistan`s support was crucial but regretted
that there were impediments to peace.

His comments were taken as a reference to the absence of
the support he expected from Islamabad for furthering
reconciliation in Afghanistan, the Dawn reported.

The shift in Pakistan`s policy on Afghanistan has been
coming for some time and became pronounced after Prime
Minister Gilani`s visit to Kabul in December 2010 and a
subsequent trip to the Afghan capital accompanied by army
chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani and ISI head Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha,
the daily quoted its sources as saying.

The shift, however, was not openly enunciated so far.
During her interaction with the journalists, Khar said
the policy change might not have been noticed but the "trend
was very clear."

She added, "We have actually walked the talk."

A stable and friendly relationship with Afghanistan was
what suited Pakistan`s future, she said.

She noted that President Karzai had himself said during
recent bilateral talks that Pakistan should have a "proactive
supportive role and not a proactive leading role" in the peace
process.

Khar did not see the moves being encouraged by Pakistan
as competing with the US-backed initiative to engage the
Afghan Taliban in Qatar.

"The two can be subsumed and may complement each other,"
she said.

Pakistan`s security establishment has, for decades,
backed the policy of "strategic depth", which perceives
Afghanistan as being part of Islamabad`s strategic backyard
that can be used in the event of any possible hostilities with
India.

PTI

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