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Afghanistan Is Ready To Work for Peace without Pakistan Help: Ludin

Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin

Kabul – Afghanistan is shocked by Pakistan’s “complacency” in the nascent Afghan peace process and is ready to work without Islamabad’s help on reconciliation, Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin told Reuters on Wednesday. It was the first time Afghanistan has suggested the possibility of going it alone without its neighbor. Regional power Pakistan is seen as critical to stabilizing Afghanistan because of its long ties to insurgent groups.

Ludin also said the government would look to senior Taliban figures recently handed over by the United States in Bagram prison to urge militants to pursue peace. He did not elaborate. Afghan officials had been pushing Pakistan hard to encourage the Taliban and other groups to join reconciliation efforts and Kabul had spoken of progress after Islamabad released some Taliban prisoners who could promote peace.

But Ludin, widely believed to shape foreign policy, told Reuters in an interview that Afghanistan had noted a shift in Pakistan’s position towards peace efforts that are gaining more urgency as foreign forces prepare to leave by the end of 2014. “We here in Kabul are in a bit of a state of shock at once again being confronted by the depth of Pakistan’s complacency, we are just very disappointed,” he said.

“But what has happened in the last few months for us, (we)see that Pakistan is changing the goal post every time we reach understanding.” Afghanistan also said it had canceled a military trip to Pakistan due to “unacceptable Pakistani shelling” of the country’s mountainous eastern borderlands.

More than two dozen Pakistani artillery shells were fired into Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar on Monday and Tuesday. The cancellation of the trip and days of angry diplomatic exchanges have placed further strain on a fraught relationship. Afghanistan expressed its concern about what it called Pakistan’s attempt to sideline President Hamid Karzai’s government to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Kabul this week, said Ludin.

The deputy foreign minister, who is closely involved in peace efforts, said Afghanistan insisted that its High Peace Council, formed by Karzai, should spearhead any peace efforts. Ludin said Pakistan had been trying to get the Taliban to talk to other parties, like the opposition, something he said would reverse gains.

“Suddenly, there is a new notion of the peace process now being introduced by Pakistan and that’s ‘well why should the Taliban talk to President Karzai or the High Peace Council?'” said Ludin. “They (Taliban) should in fact talk to other political parties.  That’s what they have told us,” Ludin said. “Pakistan’s concept of the peace process is one that will reverse the achievement of the last 10 years that will negate the centrality of the Afghan state.” (Reuters)

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