ISLAMABAD, (AFP) — Pakistan said on Friday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had yet to share his peace plans with Islamabad, fuelling suggestions that the country could be excluded from tentative contacts.
“President Karzai had told us he would share his plan with the United States and with Pakistan. He has not shared it with us so far,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters.
Pakistan has offered to facilitate reconciliation efforts to end the nine-year Taliban insurgency against the government and US-led foreign troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, predicting that otherwise they would fail.
“We believe the peace process will have to be an Afghan-led process but no negotiations would succeed if Pakistan is excluded from it,” said Gilani.
Pakistan was the chief supporter of the Taliban regime, which imposed a harsh brand of Islam on Afghanistan from 1996 until it was ousted in the 2001 US-led invasion after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The Afghan government body created to broker peace this week called publicly on Riyadh to help bring the militia to the negotiating table.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the other two countries to recognise the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime.
A New York Times report said Karzai’s government seemed to be trying to exclude Pakistan from any deal with the Taliban in an attempt to minimise Islamabad’s influence after the departure of foreign troops.
The newspaper said Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was being cut out of negotiations, in part because of his closeness to Pakistan’s security services, and to “drive a wedge into the upper ranks of the Taliban leadership”.
“Though there is some disagreement among Afghan officials, many regard Mullah Omar as essentially a prisoner of the Pakistani security establishment who would be unable to exercise any independence,” the report said Wednesday.
Afghan and Western officials have long suspected that elements of the Pakistani establishment, notably the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, continue to support the militia.
Pakistan has always rejected the accusations, saying it is committed to fighting the Taliban and is actively targeting militants.
The Taliban, who have been fighting an increasingly violent insurgency, have said publicly they will not enter into dialogue with the government until all 152,000 foreign troops based in the country leave.