Press Trust of India

Pakistan to host regional conference on Afghanistan: Report

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Islamabad: Pakistan is likely to host a regional conference on Afghanistan as part of a diplomatic push to prevent a civil war in the war-torn neighbouring country, according to a media report on Monday.
“We are planning to host foreign ministers of the key regional countries on the Afghan situation,” The Express Tribune quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying.
The official added that they could not provide the list of invitees.
However, sources said foreign ministers of the neighbours of Afghanistan, including Russia, China, Iran and other stakeholders like Turkey would attend the conference.
The idea behind the initiative is to discuss the latest situation and evolve a consensus to prevent a civil war in Afghanistan, the report said.
The neighbours of Afghanistan are concerned that the deteriorating situation in the war-torn country would have a negative impact on the region.
A Taliban surge in Afghanistan has intensified as US and NATO troops wrap up their withdrawal from the country.
With Taliban attacks increasing, Afghan security forces and government troops have retaliated with airstrikes aided by the United States.
Pakistan has a central role in the Afghan endgame, but as the situation deteriorates in the neighbouring country, there are elements within Afghanistan as well as in the US which are holding Islamabad responsible for the mess, the report said.
Officials familiar with the development said Pakistan would counter such allegations at all levels and insisted that the civil war in Afghanistan would harm the country more than anyone else.
While Pakistan contemplates hosting the foreign ministers of regional countries, the plan to organise a meeting of leaders of different factions of Afghanistan is now in the doldrums.
Pakistan was supposed to host the Afghan Peace Conference last month as part of its diplomatic initiative to bring all Afghan players on board.
The conference, however, was postponed after Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani refused to send a delegation.
The sources said the conference’s idea had now been shelved altogether given the deepening mistrust between Pakistan and the Afghan government.
According to the sources, while Pakistan would continue to seek a political settlement in Afghanistan, the focus would now be on securing the border to minimise the impact of the Afghan civil war.
Pakistan has already fenced the 2,600km long border with Afghanistan coupled with introducing a new mechanism that regulates the movement of people between the two frontiers.
Another aspect of the strategy includes stepping up the campaign against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is likely to get emboldened against the backdrop of the Afghan Taliban’s victory.
Pakistan’s efforts to persuade the Afghan Taliban to take action against the TTP were met with a lukewarm response.
Therefore, the sources said Pakistan had decided to fight its own battle instead of pinning hopes on others to take on the TTP.
There has been a sudden spike in TTP terrorist attacks since the US and NATO forces started withdrawing from Afghanistan and as a result, the Taliban started making rapid inroads.


Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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