ISLAMABAD: Pakistan says the visit of director general ISI, Zaheer-ul-Islam, to the United States where he met his American counterpart, was ‘productive’ and that the meetings he held in Washington have resulted in finding a way forward to bring the rocky relationship back on the track through certain proposals, which are now under consideration by both sides.
“I don’t have anything specific to share with you at the moment. But what I can tell you is that we are working on various proposals”, spokesman at the Foreign Office commented without going into further details during the weekly media briefing.
However, he ruled out speculation that Pakistan had agreed to forego the under construction Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline for the sake of $280 million from the US for the energy sector. “Let me tell you categorically that there is no linkage whatsoever. US$ 280 million have been released under the Kerry-Luger Bill for the upgrading of Mangla Dam and Kurram-Tangi Dam. But there is no linkage between the two”, clarified the spokesman.
Commenting on the visit of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Tehran to attend the consultative conference on Syria, the spokesman who had accompanied the minister, said that Pakistan was concerned over the deteriorating situation.
“We want a peaceful resolution of the issue based on the principles of non-intervention, non-interference and, of course, non-use of force”, he said.Pakistan says that the delayed visit of Hign Peace Council chairman Sallahuddin Rabbani was because of ‘scheduling problem’, and both sides are working out a ‘mutually convenient date’. “On a visit to Afghanistan, Prime MinisterAshraf extended an invitation to the High Peace Council to visit Pakistan. Of course we attach a lot of importance to their visit to Pakistan. So basically there is a scheduling problem as both sides are working to chalk out a mutually convenient date. I don’t see anything beyond that. There is no linkage between this visit and access to Taliban in Pakistan”, said the spokesman.
However, he pointed out that the issue of (Afghan) prisoners is under discussion between the two sides, but there were no specific details to be shared right now.To a query about the Indian Supreme Court seeking information about the nationality of 26 prisoners alleged to be Pakistanis, the spokesman replied that there is an established mechanism under which both countries deal with this issue.
“There is a thorough process of ascertaining or certifying the nationality of the prisoners but I can’t give you a specific answer as to what is the situation at the moment”, he added.Agencies add: Pakistan and Afghanistan are in talks on the release of a key member of Taliban whose 2010 arrest in Pakistan was blamed for sabotaging peace initiatives, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a powerful Taliban military chief who has been described as the militia’s second-in-command, was arrested in Karachi.
The Afghan government and the former UN envoy to Afghanistan said his detention had adversely affected efforts to talk to the insurgents.“The issue of prisoners is under discussion between the two countries,” foreign ministry spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan told reporters when asked to comment on the Afghan demands for access to Baradar and for his release.
The spokesman did not name any prisoner or give further details, but when asked, confirmed that Baradar, a trusted aide to the Taliban’s elusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, was still in Pakistani custody. Baradar is the most important Taliban leader to be captured since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Afghan militia from power in Kabul.
Shortly after Baradar’s arrest, the Pentagon said two other Taliban officials were arrested, also understood to have been captured in Pakistan. In March 2010, Kai Eide, the then just retired UN envoy to Afghanistan, said the arrest of key Taliban in Pakistan had stopped a secret channel of communication between the insurgents and the United Nations.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly invited the Taliban to open direct talks with his government and on Pakistan to facilitate an end to the 10-year war. Pakistan has said it will do anything required by Kabul to support an Afghan-led peace process, but there is a wide degree of scepticism in Afghanistan and the United States about the sincerity of the former Taliban ally.