Karzai calls for Pakistan's aid in Afghanistan-Taliban peace process


Visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai (L) adjusts his cap as he arrives with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R) for a press conference at The Prime Minister's House in Islamabad on Aug. 26, 2013.


Aamir Qureshi

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Pakistan "to facilitate peace talks" with the Taliban in a joint press conference during his visit to Islamabad Monday. 

Karzai wants Pakistan to connect the Taliban with the Afghan High Peace Council, a state body assigned to negotiate with the terrorist group.

"For the two countries, the primary concern is lack of security for their citizens and the continued menace of terrorism," Karzai said. "It is this area that needs to have primary and focused attention from both governments."

Karzai's Pakistani counterpart, recently elected Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said he supported talks with militants.

Sharif said his country would assist in bringing the Taliban to the table, since the terrorist group has refused to speak with Karzai, calling him a puppet of the United States. However, Sharif did not specifically mention the council in his remarks, according to Reuters

"I assured President Karzai that Pakistan will continue to extend all possible facilitation to the international community's efforts for the realization of this noble goal," Sharif said. "Pakistan will also help reinforce regional efforts in support of stabilization of Afghanistan."

Pakistan is likely to play a key role in any peace talks since it has historical ties to the Taliban, a group ousted from power in Afghanistan in 2001. The ISI, Pakistan's spy agency, supported the Taliban until its ouster, though it claims to no longer support the militant group.

In June, attempted peace talks ended even before they began in the Qatari capital of Doha, as Karzai, upset by the Taliban's political stunt of flying the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan flag over its new office, canceled the meetings.

Prisoner release also remains a contentious issue. Pakistan has released Taliban inmates to help jump-start the peace process, but Afghanistan and the United States have accused the state of not properly monitoring the prisoners who they fear will take up arms again.

The joint conference also focused on economic cooperation between the neighboring countries, with both leaders agreeing to transportation and energy projects.