No headway made in second Pak-Afghan talks on peace and security

The second round of Pakistan-Afghanistan talks on an engagement plan on peace and security issues ended on Saturday without making any headway on its key elements because the Afghan delegation felt that their priorities were not being addressed.

The two sides could not only agree on a joint statement to sum up the two-day proceedings but gave divergent accounts about the outcome.

The Pakistani version came through Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal’s tweet that essentially said more needed to be done to bridge the difference of opinion with regards to the proposed Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).

The tweet did not even say if the two sides would meet again and possibly when.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in a statement issued on Saturday said that no progress had been achieved in the Afghan delegation visit to Pakistan.

It said: “While some progress was made on the mechanism of cooperation, no progress was achieved on specific, results-oriented, time-bound measures in the APAPPS, particularly in the areas of counter-terrorism, reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation to meet the priorities of Afghanistan.”

The Afghan delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai while Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani side at the talks.

The APAPPS provides a blueprint for a Pak-Afghan engagement on counterterrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees’ repatriation and joint economic development.

The first round of talks under the APAPPS was held in Kabul on 3 February, following deadly Taliban-claimed attacks in Kabul on 20 January and 27 January, which killed nearly 150 people and injured hundreds more. The two sides had on that occasion reported: “some progress”, expressed the commitment to “continue their discussions to reach an agreement on the APAPPS” and fixed 9 – 10 February for further discussions in Islamabad.

At the start of the talks, the Foreign Office had expressed optimism about forward movement. The Afghan delegation, alongside the negotiations on the APAPPS, reportedly also talked about the recent attacks in Kabul, which they allege originated from Pakistan.

Afghan officials claim that their interior minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and National Directorate of Security chief Masoom Stanekzai had in a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on 31 January handed over a list of individuals and madressahs suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

Dr Faisal had earlier said at a briefing that “the Afghan representatives have shared information with us during the recent visit. We will look into it and revert soon”.

A diplomatic source claimed that the impasse on the APAPPS was because Afghans were linking the investigation into Kabul attacks with any agreement on the engagement plan.

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