Afghan leadership invites Pakistan army chief Bajwa for Kabul visit, days after China, Russia, Pakistan hold trilateral talks on Afghan peace

MAMOSA Report — Irshad Salim; Jan 1, 2017 –– Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Saturday held telephonic conversation with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Gen Bajwa also held a telephonic conversation with his Afghan counterpart Gen Qadam Shah Raheem.

The Pakistan army chief, during the conversation, conveyed his best wishes to the Afghan leadership for the year 2017, the ISPR said in a statement. He pledged to work together for peace in the region.

The Afghan leadership invited General Qamar Javed Bajwa for a visit to their country.

“The COAS said that peace in both countries is in greater interest of the region,” the ISPR statement read.

The New Year development comes days after a Secretary-level trilateral talks between Pakistan, China and Russia. It was held on December 27 in Moscow on restoration of peace in Afghanistan, according to reports.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry represented Pakistan in the talks. Experts say Pakistan is trying to forge an alliance to counter an Indian-Afghan partnership, according to a DW report.

The Moscow talks come 37 years after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.

Russia is said to be gravely concerned over expansion and growing influence of the terrorist group Daesh in Afghanistan and it wants to play an active role to bring different stakeholders to a negotiating table with reference to Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Office said.

This is the main reason that Russia wants cooperation from Pakistan and China to find out solution to this issue, it said.

This comes while, recently Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s director of the Second Asian Department has declared the Taliban a potent armed political power, saying that the Taliban and the Russian federation are bound by common ground in their campaign against Daesh in Afghanistan, reports ToloNews.

Kabulov said that Russia completely agreed with the general perception that the U.S has no clear strategy in Afghanistan and it only has a military and political presence in the war-hit nation.

“The US has failed to bring peace to Afghanistan, so now we are trying to engage with other regional countries to work for Afghanistan’s stability, which is essential for peace in the entire region,” Mushahid Ullah Khan, a close aide to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told DW. “Pakistan has suffered a lot in the war on terror but Washington blames us for the turmoil in Afghanistan.”

Kabulov confirmed that Russia has been in contact with the Taliban, saying these contacts are aimed to ensure the security of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and Russia’s political representatives in the country.

According to reports, Russia, China and Pakistan have agreed to work together to get Afghan Taliban individuals delisted from the UN sanctions list.

According to a press release issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry following Tuesday’s meeting in Moscow between the three countries, delegates also met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.

The statement indicated that “Russia and China, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, reaffirmed their readiness for flexible approaches to the prospect of excluding certain individuals from the list of sanctioned persons as part of efforts to promote a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement.”

Pointing towards what they said was a “worsening security situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” the delegates said they were “especially worried about intensifying activities by extremist groups in that country, including the Afghan branch of ISIS (Daesh).”

According to the statement, the participants agreed to continue efforts to assist in furthering the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan, based on the key role of the Afghans – “in line with the principles of integrating the armed opposition into peaceful life.”

The participants agreed to continue consultations in an expanded format and said they would like to see Afghanistan take part.

This was the third round of trilateral consultations on regional problems – with the focus on Afghanistan.

Russia-Pakistan anti terrorism joint military exercise

Kabulov also expressed satisfaction over growing ties between Russia and Pakistan. The two countries held their first-ever anti-terror joint military drill a few months back and are expanding their bilateral trade and economic ties. Russia has agreed to funding the $2 billion north-south Karachi to Lahore LNG pipeline, it has emerged.

Geo-strategic relations are rapidly changing in southern Asia. Former Cold War rivals India and the US are bolstering their defense and trade ties amid growing concerns about China’s assertiveness in the region, particularly in the disputed South China Sea.

On the other hand, Islamabad and Washington, who were allies against the former Soviet Union and collaborated in the 1980s Afghan War, are drifting apart, DW reports. Simultaneously, Islamabad and Moscow, the two Cold War-era foes are reviving their ties.

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