Pakistan PM To Travel To Qatar For Talks On Afghan Peace Deal
February 04, 2012
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says the country's prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, will travel to Qatar next week for talks with leaders there on a peace deal to end the Taliban's 10-year war in Afghanistan.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told RFE/RL's Mashaal Radio that Gilani's visit on February 6 will involve both bilateral talks as well as a broader discussion on Afghanistan.
Basit said Pakistan was ready to aid in the process, but said the ultimate responsibility for resolving the conflict lay with Afghanistan.
"As far as progress in concerned, it's the Afghan people and their leaders who have to achieve this goal," Basit said.
"Foreign powers, forces, and states -- including Pakistan -- can only help to some extent. The real decision-making is in the hands of the Afghans. And if it brings peace and stability to their country, every decision they make will be acceptable to everyone, including Pakistan."
The trip appears to represent a step forward in the deadlocked Afghan peace process, and comes several days after Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, returned from talks in Afghanistan saying her country was ready to push the Taliban and other insurgent groups into peace talks.
Pakistan has been accused of hampering peace efforts in Afghanistan by assisting militants from the Taliban and Haqqani network.
Western officials have suggested Pakistan has the potential to scuttle any peace deal that might be forged without its participation.
Pakistan's army is seen as looking to ensure that any regime in Afghanistan that follows the scheduled 2014 withdrawal of U.S. forces is hostile to India, which it regards as a threat to its own security.
The new focus on Qatar comes after the Afghan Taliban last month announced it was establishing a political office there, in a move that was seen as progress toward a peace deal.
Neither side in the conflict, nor any of the regional governments with ties to Afghanistan, have indicated in detail what a potential peace deal would look like.
With agency reports
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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