Facilitate contact with Mullah Omar: Karzai
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Friday said it was “preposterous” to think that Islamabad could deliver Taliban chief Mullah Omar to the negotiating table as Kabul has asked in the past. File photo | AP

Amid reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai minced no words in his deliberations with the Pakistani leadership vis-à-vis facilitating immediate contact with senior leaders of the Taliban including Mullah Omar, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Friday dismissed the demand as preposterous and unrealistic.

In a brief interaction with the media after the joint press conference by the Presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran following their trilateral meeting, Ms. Khar said the Afghans first need to be clear what they want. “There are multiple processes,” she said referring to the various efforts at reconciliation. And, Pakistan does not know how much ownership Afghanistan has over any of them.

Officially, Mr. Karzai has been maintaining that Pakistan's support is critical for restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan and Ms. Khar admitted that there had been some hard talk during the bilateral meeting. Asked about reports of a near confrontation during Thursday's deliberations, she said: “The talks were very useful. If they were hard, that is fine. Sometimes we need to do hard talk.''

Earlier, Mr. Karzai described his deliberations with Pakistan as “futuristically oriented'' with a recognition of the problems and opportunities. “What we need now is to formulate an actionable and implementable policy, and act on it,'' he said while addressing the meeting along with President Asif Ali Zardari and their Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

While Mr. Zardari conceded that residuals of the fight against the Soviets remained in Pakistan, he denied the direct and indirect involvement of Pakistan's armed forces in terrorism when asked about the alleged “double game'' being played by Islamabad.

As to how Pakistan hoped to continue with the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project given the U.S.-driven sanctions against Iran, Mr. Zardari said “our point of view has been accepted that Iran and Pakistan are neighbours and we need to depend on each other''.

On how the three countries planned to face the repercussions of trilateral action given the U.S.-led effort to isolate Iran, Mr. Ahmedinejad said: “All countries of the region know that the roots of the problem lie elsewhere and these problems have been imposed on this region. There are countries which are determined to dominate the region and prevent its development so that we remain dependent on them.''

Of the view that the nuclear bomb brings no superiority to any country that possesses it, he said Iran's links with Pakistan are not because of nuclear weapons. With the joint statement showing no particular headway, the Iranian President asserted that the trilateral process was now going to move from words to deeds and the three countries would try to work together to deny others an opportunity to interfere in “our affairs''. Maintaining that the three countries have the wherewithal to ensure this, he said: “We have immense resources, large tracts of land and talented human resources coupled with a rich humanitarian culture.''

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