1st round of quadrilateral meeting on Afghanistan on Jan 16: Asif


ISLAMABAD, Dec.31 (APP): Defence Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif on Thursday said the first round of quadrilateral meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States and China would be held on January 16 to work out a comprehensive road map for the second round of Afghan peace process.
Briefing the Senate on the recent visit of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif to Kabul, the minister said the meeting would clearly demarcate responsibilities of each stakeholder at all stages.
The COAS conveyed the message to the Afghan government that the reconciliation process would be purely Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, and the three countries, including Pakistan, the United States and China,
would facilitate it.
He said the COAS visit to Kabul was very successful as he talked to the Afghan leadership on various issues, including the reconciliation process, intelligence sharing and border management.
The minister said majority of Taliban groups were in favour of talks and the reconciliation process should not be affected due to the minority.
It was agreed that Pakistan would pursue the Taliban groups willing to join the peace process to come to the negotiating table, he added.
A decree (Fatwa), the minister said, would also be sought from Ulema about the reconciliation process.
Elements, who would still continue to pursue violence, would be dealt under a mutually worked-out framework, he added.
Khawaja Asif said cooperation between the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Afghan intelligence agency (NDS) would be improved. During the COAS visit, the two countries agreed to institutionalize the process of intelligence sharing, he added.
He said both the countries also talked about border management to control cross-border incidents in future. The COAS visit was very successful and such contacts should continue between the two countries, he stressed.
The minister warned that the IS (Islamic State) or Daesh was taking roots in five provinces of Afghanistan and it could only be confronted through a common front and the successful reconciliation process.
He said peace in Afghanistan was must for Pakistan and the region.  The decision to restart the reconciliation process was taken during the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad to participate in the Heart of Asia conference.
Responding to a point raised by Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan about the sanctuaries of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in Afghanistan, the minister said the matter had been taken up with Kabul. The Afghan government had been told that Pakistan had dismantled the terrorists network form its soil during the operation Zarb-e-Azb and expected the same from Afghanistan.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani asked the members to bring a motion on the issue for detailed discussion during the next session.