10 November 2013
Trilateral talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan and England were said to have gone well last week, however, according to Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesman Janan Mosazai, Pakistan's help in advancing the Taliban peace process is not guaranteed.
The second round of trilateral talks between the heads of the three nations was heralded as a positive step in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have been estranged over the issue of the Taliban insurgency that Afghan officials accuse their counterparts across the border of covertly supporting.
Afghan officials have long asked Islamabad's help on getting the Taliban to the negotiating table in hopes of reaching some kind of reconciliation deal. Those requests have increased this year in anticipation of the uncertainty the NATO troop withdraw at the end of 2014 will bring.
On Sunday, Mosazai spoke on behalf of the Afghan Foreign Ministry and reiterated the stance that Pakistan would play a key role in any path to peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, his optimism about Pakistan's commitment to those ends was tempered.
"There is no guarantee for the honest cooperation of Pakistan in the peace process," Mosazai said. "But in the trilateral meeting there were positive talks and we hope that we will see a good result."
According to Afghan officials, the talks in London revolved around bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan broadly, but centered more specifically on how peace talks with the Taliban could see progress.
Reportedly one of the specific items of tension between the two South Asian neighbors that was raised by Karzai was the pending release of Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar from Pakistani custody. His release, which Afghan officials have been pushing for in hopes that it could break the barrier the Taliban has erected in communications with them, was originally agreed to by Islamabad back in September but then saw delays.
Following the London talks, Afghan officials have announced that a delegation from the High Peace Council (HPC) would soon meet with Baradar to discuss negotiations.
In addition, while Karzai was in London meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and British Prime Minster David Cameron, Taliban political leader Mutasem Agha Jan spoke on behalf of the groups' supreme commander Mullah Omar and said peace talks were on the horizon.
So while recent developments would indicate progress is being made on peace talks, the nature of Pakistan's commitment remains an unknown variable to officials in Kabul who plan to move forward cautiously, without assumptions.