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Karzai comments on Afghanistan peace talk process

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    Posted: 10-Jan-2019 at 1:34pm
Former Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai, on Thursday claimed that the involvement of Taliban leadership is important for the success and sustainability of Afghan peace process and supported Russian role in the peace process. 

Speaking at the fourth edition of the Raisina Dialogue in Delhi on Thursday, Karzai said "Taliban belongs to our country" and hence their involvement is crucial for the success of the peace talks, either initiated by the US or the Russians. 

Asked about the Taliban issue, he said, "Talibans are also Afghans, sons of our soil".

"Eventually some day, I hope some day, sooner, we all will get together as Afghans and take issues in our own hands, and bring our country to peace. For peace to occur in Afghanistan, for peace to come to Afghanistan, the Talibans are inevitable, as they are Afghans," Karzai said.

He said, he was sure there are "great patriotic forces among them, who love Afghanistan and don't want to be dictated by Pakistan," adding, a good, well-thought out peace process will bring the Taliban to expression of their free will.

"Taliban is inevitable for bringing peace to the country," Mr Karzai told Mr Ashok Malik, the Press Secretary of the President of India, in the "In Conversation" panel of the Raisina Dialogue. 

He expressed optimism that the US peace talks, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy to Afghanistan, could do well as Khalilzad is an Afghan and he understands the issues and sensibilities better. 

"Afghanistan differentiates between peace and a deal between the US and Pakistan on Afghanistan," he said.

"Pakistan has the most significant role to play to bring peace in Afghanistan. That role is recognised and we want Pakistan to play that role. We want a peace process in which, we have the US, India, Russia and China and Iran," Karzai added.

On the "Afghan-owned and Afghan-led" peace process, he said, he meant a peace process in which the Taliban movement and other Afghans sit together in an intra-Afghan dialogue and "sort out the difficulties within our own country".

"And this effort be backed by those who matter, in Afghanistan, in the region and internationally... And, once the settlement is done, Afghanistan gets what it wants -- peace, sovereignty, dignity and friendship with other countries," he said.

Karzai also strongly supported the Russian role in the peace process, saying both the countries have very closely historical and cultural links and Russia is closest to Afghanistan. 

He said only a well-thought-out peace process would be able to peace to the country as the issues are difficult and complex. 

He also welcomed Chinese efforts, saying China is a super power and a close neighbor who have good relations with Pakistan. He added that Iran too has a big role to play in the stability of the region. 

The former President fully backed the Chabahar port project of India and Iran, saying it would help improve connectivity in the region. 

Reacting to US President Donald Trump's jibe at India for its efforts in Afghanistan, Karzai said: "Trump didn't mean only that, media blew it up. Maybe he could have used better words, but basically, he said what even we want, which is the larger role should be played by India."

Elaborating more on the Afghan-led peace process, Karzai said: "It should be backed by those in region who support Afghanistan. Peace, sovereignty, dignity, and relationships with other countries; that's what the peace process should be about. There have been many peace efforts."

"I want to be a visionary to contribute to stability and peace in the region. India-China co-operation for Afghanistan is the best option," he remarked.

"We should concentrate on a peace deal that enhances role of women in Afghanistan".

Karzai said Islamabad's interference was "almost brutal", adding "all efforts were made to destroy Afghanistan's infrastructure, society and the country." He, however, praised Pakistan for providing food and shelter to the displaced Afghans.

"The Pakistani people gave us their homes and shared their food with us. The people of Afghanistan are eternally grateful to them. However, we are also unhappy with Pakistani government and their military. They behaved the opposite way to how the Pakistani people were. Interfering in Afghanistan was almost brutal, and all efforts were made to destroy the nation's infrastructure, value, culture and society. So, we have two different approaches - to people and then to government," he remarked.

"They (Pakistan) supported extremism and violence. We know Pakistan is significant in the peace process of Afghanistan. But we have seen what dealing with America and Pakistan on Afghanistan means. We don't want to deal only with them. We want others like India and Iran too," he added.

He expressed hope that the Taliban would be a part of the peace process "sooner or later inevitably." "The Taliban are Afghans. We hope one day we can bring them together for peace. War is adding to extremism in Afghanistan. Peace will lead to moderation," Karzai said.

He said Afghanistan and India enjoyed a "romantic relationship" and because of the closeness, the expectations are very high in his country. "India is doing a lot. But people expect more and more," he pointed out. 

Earlier, participating in a panel discussion on 'A New Delhi Consensus - India's Imagination and Global Expectations', Gen. (Retd) V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, said India is positive and enthusiastic about its current relations with China. 

"We are positive. We are enthusiastic," he said when asked about issues plaguing the two large neighbors. 

He said India is now economically, technologically and diplomatically capable of playing a much bigger role in the global space, pointing out that it has made many, many more friends in the last four and half years. 

Singapore's senior minister of state, ministry of defense and ministry of external affairs, Mr. Mohamad Maliki Osman, said we can achieve much more economically in Southeast Asia through comprehensive partnerships with major countries and neighbors, though world economy is getting challenged now. 

Edited by AfghanistanNews - 12-Jan-2019 at 12:26am
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