According to a statement released by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the two sides agreed towards the joint cause after COAS Raheel Sharif met the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul.
“With a shared responsibility, all stakeholders would support and ensure success of an Afghan-led dialogue and reconciliation process,” read the statement.
The first round of quadrilateral meeting will be scheduled in January to work out a clear and comprehensive road map for a meaningful peace process with a clear demarcation of responsibilities of each stake holders at all stages.
The statement said that both sides agreed that they would pursue peace and reconciliation with Afghanistan’s Taliban groups, who are willing to join the process.
“Elements who would still continue to pursue violence will be dealt, under a mutually worked out framework.” read the media release.
During his meetings with Afghan Chief Executive and President, General Raheel Sharif laid stress upon instituting an effective mechanism for better coordination among the two countries about individuals and tribesman crossing the border.
The COAS and Afghan dignitaries agreed to jointly counter the terrorism threat and vowed not to allow use of their respective soil against each other through active intelligence sharing and Intelligence Based Operations(IBOs).
Emphasizing the need to improve bilateral relations it was decided to establish a hot line contact between the DGMOs of both countries.
Later, the COAS met General John Campbell, Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and visited Bagram Air Base where he was briefed on the capabilities of Resolute Support Mission and special operations.
General Raheel Sharif arrived in Kabul on a day-long visit for deliberations on resumption of the Afghan reconciliation process and instituting a border management mechanism. He had last visited Kabul along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May this year.
Their visit had then helped address Afghan misgivings, which had emerged after the start of Taliban’s spring offensive and the engagement led to the start of reconciliation process some seven weeks later, on July 7 in Murree.
The process, despite the initial positive outlook, could not survive and collapsed days before the second round of talks planned for July 31 with the disclosure that Taliban chief Mullah Omar had died in April 2013.
The suspension of the dialogue, succession dispute within the Taliban and the accompanying increase in militant violence in Afghanistan further frayed the Pak-Afghan relationship.
Gen Sharif’s Sunday visit was initially planned for earlier this month – before the Dec 9 Heart of Asia ministerial meeting in Islamabad – but got delayed because of bilateral tensions.
The two countries were also without any mechanism on border management since a tripartite commission, involving Pakistan, Afghanistan and coalition forces, completed its mandate following the end of International Security Assistance Force’s Afghan mission in December 2014.
Border clashes between Pakistan and Afghan security forces had increased in the absence of the coordination mechanism. According to a defence official, 132 violations were committed by the Afghan security forces on the Pak-Afghan border this year in which 18 Pakistani soldiers lost their lives.
Meanwhile, Umer Daudzai, a former ambassador to Pakistan, and a leading opposition figure in Afghanistan, opposes Ghani s strategy of including Pakistan in peace talks with the Taliban, saying Islamabad wants to control the insurgency, a common view in Afghanistan that Pakistan denies.
“For 10 years we went through Islamabad and it didn t work. Pakistan will never give up its asset, which is most of the Taliban,” Daudzai said. “They are playing games.”
Instead he says, a small group of Afghans, acceptable to both sides, could start contacts leading ultimately to face-to-face meetings. “But it would be Afghan-brokered,” he said.
Daudzai s criticism comes as Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif meets with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a day-long visit to Kabul, where the two are expected to discuss reconciliation between the Afghan government and Taliban, as well as instituting a border-management mechanism.
According to Daudzai, political horsetrading over appointments to Afghan police and army commands has created chaos for security forces fighting the Taliban in strategic areas such as Helmand province.
He said the power-sharing arrangement at the heart of President Ashraf Ghani s National Unity Government was crippling the fight against the Taliban insurgency.
“It was a great mistake to include security forces in the 50/50 formula,” he told Reuters in an interview, referring to the power-sharing arrangement under which Ghani has divided key appointments with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
Under the arrangement, worked out following last year s inconclusive election, appointments are shared out between each side, with key commands often awarded for political loyalty rather than competence.
It is a complaint echoed by many local politicians, who say the patronage system has undermined the fight against the Taliban as it has overrun much of Helmand.
Even when strong commanders are appointed, the system leaves commanders often answering to different political masters, with conflicting priorities, Daudzai said.
“It creates chaos in the chain of command. Nobody knows who s in charge of what or who s responsible, the system should be depoliticised immediately,” he said.
The new opposition body, dubbed the Council for Safeguard and Stability, is a disparate group of former ministers and officials in the previous government of Hamid Karzai as well as veterans of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen.
It says it wants the government to hold parliamentary elections and a constitutional council or Loya Jirga next year as well as change in areas including security policy.
Critics say the body is just a platform for former politicians, some accused of corruption, now shut out of power. But Daudzai pointed to last month s rally against the killing of seven members of the Hazara minority as evidence of mounting frustration with the government.
Protest in Kabul
The demonstration, the largest in Kabul for years, was generally peaceful but security forces opened fire at one point as angry protesters scaled the presidential palace walls.
“That day was a wakeup call for all of us,” he said. “We want to use these kinds of pressure but it has to be coordinated, otherwise it can become dangerous.”
The council denies its aim is to bring down the government but Daudzai, widely believed to have leadership ambitions of his own, said he favoured early presidential elections.
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