Islamabad – Pakistan will keep on facilitating the reconciliation process for peace and stability in Afghanistan, the military said on Sunday.
According to a Nation report, Army spokesperson Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa said in an interview with Chinese news agency Xinhua that Pakistan wants the Afghan government in complete control of the peace process.
His comments came after high-level talks were held in Murree between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban, and the two sides agreed to continue the talks after Ramazan.
The army spokesperson said Pakistan has adopted a political framework to push forward the Afghan peace process. “Peace in Afghanistan is Pakistan’s major interest and the Afghan government has the same interest. So those people should be identified who think this peace process does not serve their interests,” he said.
In response to a question about the agreement signed recently between the two intelligence agencies in view of some criticism in Afghanistan, he described the MoU as a good omen for cooperation.
“If we want to bring peace, there is a need for an enhanced cooperation at military and intelligence level to correct things on the ground. So agreements and MoUs will be signed to make this a long-term process. All these steps are aimed at strengthening and implementing the process,” he said.
With regard to the military operation against the Taliban militants in North Waziristan, Bajwa expressed the hope that security forces would clear the mountainous Shawal valley from the terrorists in the second phase of the offensive.
“The Security forces have inflicted heavy losses on the terrorists in the preliminary operation in Shawal Valley and the terrorists will be eliminated in the second phase,” he said. To a question about the conclusion of the operation, he said he could not give a timeframe to complete the operation and said that operation was making substantial progress.
“I cannot give timeframe but I say we are achieving our objectives, however, the understanding is to complete the operation as soon as possible. The operation Zarb-e-Azb is continuing under a plan,” he said.
He said the preliminary phase of the operation in Shawal Valley had been completed and the next phase is being planned.
“As the terrorists amassed in Shawal Valley after fleeing from other parts of North Waziristan, the security forces have faced some resistance but the enemy has suffered a lot.”
“There could be some resistance in the next phase of the operation in the valley, whatsoever the situation might be, the army is determined to move forward, I am hopeful that all areas would be cleared of the terrorists soon.”
The spokesman said the army and the local tribesmen had agreed that terrorists would never be allowed to come back once the whole area was cleared.
“People think that they have got rid of the terrorists and no one will again support them. The state position is also very clear that there will be no agreement with the Taliban and no question of their return arises.”
When asked if the army have any plan to win hearts and minds of the people after defeating the armed groups, he said winning hearts and minds of the people is not possible within two or three days.
“The brave people of tribal areas are our own and we are proud of them and we will go hand-in-hand and I am hopeful that they will stand with the armed forces for development in their areas.”
To a question about repatriation of TDPs, he said the process had already been started and some people had gone back. He added that many people would return their homes in next phase.
“The government and the Pakistan army have prepared a comprehensive repatriation plan and funds have also been allocated in the budget,” he held.
General Asim said that initial estimate of the rehabilitation stands at around Rs 89 billion. The rehabilitation will start with the provision of funds.
He said a survey for the rehabilitation and restoration of infrastructure was underway and the army had already started some rehabilitation work in the area.
General Bajwa said the rehabilitation process was not an easy task and the authorities were making sure that the retunrees should get all facilities.
To a question about the fire incident in Bannu last month in which two TDPs were killed, he said an investigation committee had been formed to ascertain facts of the said incident.
‘Mullah Omar’ favours Taliban peace talks with Afghan govt
* Written message on website says Taliban have a legal right to meet Afghan and foreign officials as long as Islamic ideals are respected in the process
KABUL: A message purportedly from reclusive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar on Wednesday appeared for the first time to signal approval for peace talks with the Afghan government, a week after milestone meetings between the two sides in Pakistan.
It represented the first word in the name of Mullah Omar on the budding peace process that has deeply split the Afghan insurgents’ leadership.
However, Mullah Omar himself has not been seen in public in years, and some disgruntled Taliban factions have suggested he is either dead or very ill and others may be making statements in his name.
Wednesday’s written message issued ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eidul Fitr said the Taliban had a legal right to meet Afghan and foreign officials, as long as Islamic ideals were respected in the process. “Peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited under Islamic tradition,” said the statement published on a website linked to the Taliban. “The objective behind our political endeavours ... is to bring an end to the occupation.”
The Taliban have been fighting since their ouster in 2001 to expel US-led foreign forces and the US-backed government in Kabul. Most foreign troops left last year but at least 13,000 remain, most of them training Afghan forces.
Afghanistan and Pakistan said last week’s talks were the first official meeting between representatives and that all parties had agreed to start a process. The Taliban’s leadership, however, is known to be divided on the issue, with political chief Akhtar Muhammad Mansour - who frequently speaks for Mullah Omar - in favour of negotiation and top battlefield commander Abdul Qayum Zakir against them.
Mullah Omar, who headed the Taliban’s hardline Islamist rule over Afghanistan for five years, has not been seen in public since the US-led intervention in 2001. Wednesday’s statement did not include audio or a video.
In April, the Taliban published a 5,000 word biography that said their chief was alive, well and in regular contact with the world. Despite efforts to reassure Taliban commanders, some have defected to the Islamic State, led by the charismatic Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
‘Mullah Omar’ favours Taliban peace talks with Afghan govt