`Pak for Afghan-led reconciliation process in Afghanistan`
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 07, 2012, 00:32
Islamabad: Pakistan will support any Afghan-led reconciliation process in Afghanistan that does not cause instability in its territory, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said during a visit to Qatar, where the Taliban intend to open a political office.

Gilani made the remarks during a meeting with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabar Al-Thani.

Pakistan wants a stable, prosperous and independent Afghanistan and will "support any reconciliation process which was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and did not cause instability in Pakistan", he said.

The premier appreciated the Qatari government's initiatives for facilitating efforts for peace in Afghanistan. Gilani further said Pakistan wants good relations with all its neighbours, including Afghanistan and India.

He referred to his meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said both countries were committed to bringing peace to the subcontinent.

The Pakistani premier today began a two-day visit to Qatar, where his discussions will focus on the Afghan reconciliation process, including the Taliban's plans to open a political office in the Gulf state, and bilateral cooperation in areas like energy and trade.

Prior to his departure from Islamabad, Gilani referred to the regional security situation and reiterated his government's stance on supporting "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned initiatives for a stable Afghanistan".

The Afghan Taliban and US officials have begun preliminary contacts in Qatar and the militants recently announced plans to open a political office in the Gulf state.

Gilani was accompanied to Qatar by a high-level delegation that included Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Petroleum Minister Asim Hussain and Technical Education Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada. Cooperation between Islamabad and Kabul on the Afghan peace process stalled after the assassination last year of High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani, which Afghan officials blamed on elements based in Pakistan.

Pakistan has sought to revive this cooperation when Foreign Minister Khar visited Kabul last week.

During the visit, Khar said Pakistan would encourage militant groups like the Haqqani network or the Taliban to lay down their arms if asked by Afghanistan.

At the same time, Pakistan has been making efforts to ensure it is not left out of any reconciliation process involving the Afghan Taliban as it wants to counter what it perceives as India's growing influence in Afghanistan.

Gilani and his Qatari counterpart also agreed to collaborate in diverse areas like energy, trade, agriculture and infrastructure development.

They discussed ways to promote trade and investment.

Pointing out the issue of finalising transnational formalities to import Liquified Natural Gas at the earliest, Gilani said Pakistan is interested in importing 500 million cubic feet of LNG a day from Qatar.

Qatar's Energy Minister will visit Pakistan this month for talks with his counterpart in which "substantial progress" is expected, officials said.

Gilani said more Pakistanis could help meet Qatar's demand for a workforce of two million people for infrastructure projects for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Doha.

He expressed satisfaction at the security and defence cooperation between the two countries.


First Published: Monday, February 06, 2012, 12:23

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