Envoy: Pakistan Not Taking Sides in Afghanistan Peace Efforts

Posted February 16th, 2012 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's new ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, says Islamabad will support Afghan-led peace initiatives but will not align itself with any particular side in the conflict.

During a conference in Washington on Wednesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Rehman said Pakistan is “not seeking to support, bolster or play strategic games with any group in Afghanistan.”

She said that during Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's last visit to Afghanistan, equal time was given to all ethnic and insurgent groups, including the Northern Alliance.

“It's import for Afghanistan to lead this the way they want, because otherwise peace will not be sustainable, not durable, and, as I said, Pakistan can't afford another civil war in Afghanistan.”

Rehman's comments come as leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran gather in Islamabad for a summit aimed at facilitating peace talks with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, on the topic of U.S. aid to Pakistan, Rehman said civilian and military aid to Islamabad has faced a series of delays and blockades. The envoy said a “long conversation” is needed on how aid is delivered as well as “the metrics of its success.” Rehman added that Islamabad is looking for preferential trade rather than aid right now.

“I would like to point out that the EU, with its far more complex architecture of bylaws, fine print, and coordination challenges, has come through with preferential trade alignments for Pakistan, as we speak. So the question is asked, what is our biggest ally doing for us while we stand on the front line? Ouch. Ouch.”

The United States has provided Pakistan with about $20 billion in military and civilian aid over the past 10 years, making it the third-largest recipient of U.S. security aid and reimbursements after Afghanistan and Israel.