By Ali Imran
WASHINGTON, Jan 11 : Recognizing the key importance of Pakistan’s support for peace and stability in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday saw greater awareness in Islamabad on addressing extremism in the region.
Obama, speaking after long deliberations at the White House with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the way forward in Afghanistan and the region, said curbing extremism in Pakistan-Afghanistan border region would require political and diplomatic cooperation between the two neighbors and not just military action.
Appearing in a joint Press Conference with Karzai, President Obama said the US and Afghanistan recommited themselves to political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
“Today we agreed that this process should be advanced by opening of a Taliban office to facilitate talks,” he stated after talks, which also covered scope of US-Afghanistan cooperation beyond 2014, when the US-led Afghan war officially ends. The two leaders discussed the end of war, immunity for U.S. soldiers if some of them stay back in Afghanistan and security transition with American troops adopting support role while the Afghans taking lead responsibility.
Obama’s appreciation for the Pakistani steps referred to Islamabad’s release of the Taliban prisoners in response to demands by Kabul, which is following a roadmap for political reconciliation with the help of Pakistan.
Obama stated if some US forces stay in Afghanistan beyond, their mission and role would be to train the Afghan forces and have targeted actions against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
The US president specifically noted that Afghan reconciliation would require constructive support from Islamabad and welcomed the recent steps toward that end.
“Reconciliation also requires constructive support from across the region including Pakistan. We welcome recent steps that have been taken in that regard. We look for more tangible steps because a stable and secure Afghanistan is in the interests of not only of the Afghan people and the United States but entire region. “
Asked about the U.S. future policy with regard to militant safe havens in the Pakistani tribal areas, Obama emphasized that “Afghanistan, the United States and Pakistan all have an interest in reducing the threat of extremism in some of the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
“ That is going to require more than simply military actions. That is really going to require political and diplomatic work between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
The United States obviously will have an interest in facilitating cooperation between the two sovereign neighboring countries,Obama added.
“As President Karzai has indicated it is very hard to imagine stability and peace in the region if Pakistan and Afghanistan don’t come to some basic agreement and understanding about the threat of extremism to both countries and both governments in both capitals.
“I think you are starting to see a greater awareness on that on part of the Pakistani government.”
- As Obama, Karzai meet, Afghan peace efforts show flickers of life (news.yahoo.com)
- US Troops to Hand Over Lead Fighting Role to Afghans (reuters.com)