Friday, May 16, 2014

Pakistan Officials Say Next Afghan President Will Have Better Chance of Making Peace --- ISLAMABAD—No matter who wins Afghanistan's presidential election next month, the new Afghan leader will have better chances than President Hamid Karzai's outgoing administration at opening serious peace talks with the Taliban, senior Pakistani officials say. -- "A new government with legitimacy that is elected will improve the prospects for a more meaningful interaction and dialogue for reconciliation and peace," Pakistan's National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who also serves as de facto foreign minister, said in an interview. -- Mr. Karzai, who has ruled Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion, isn't allowed by law to run in the election. With no candidate winning an outright majority in the first round last month, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani will contest a runoff that Afghan election authorities set on Thursday for June 14. -- A successful election would "strengthen Kabul's hand in creating a broad-based coalition of all the stakeholders, and we will want that," said Tariq Fatemi, the foreign affairs adviser of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. "We want whoever comes to power to be able to reach out to all segments of the Afghan society." -- Pakistan plays a crucial role in Afghan affairs. It has historically supported the Afghan Taliban, and the insurgency's top leaders are based on Pakistani soil. -- Islamabad was also involved in facilitating the attempted opening of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the Gulf emirate of Qatar, an effort that collapsed last June after Mr. Karzai objected to the high-profile status of the Taliban mission there. -- At the same time, Pakistan has repeatedly stepped in to block peace contacts that bypassed Islamabad, arresting in 2010 the Taliban's deputy chief, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who had engaged in secret talks with Mr. Karzai's representatives. -- That outreach, however, has been met with suspicion by many in Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence establishment, where Mr. Karzai is resented for his policies and close links with Pakistan's strategic rival India, a person familiar with the establishment's thinking said. Mr. Karzai leaving the stage would reduce some of that tension, he said. -- "Anyone would be better than Karzai," added a senior Pakistani official. -- That is a change from the previous election in 2009, when Pakistan tacitly supported Mr. Karzai against Mr. Abdullah, who was seen as hostile to Islamabad because of his past as a leader in the Northern Alliance that fought against Afghanistan's Pakistani-backed Taliban regime before the 2001 U.S. invasion. -- Pakistan has also traditionally seen itself as a supporter of Afghanistan's dominant Pashtun ethnic group, and Mr. Abdullah—unlike Mr. Karzai or Mr. Ghani—comes from a mixed Pashtun-Tajik ethnic background. -- WALL Street Journal


Post a Comment

<< Home