News - Afghanistan
A Pakistani Parliamentary delegation in Kabul on Wednesday to meet with the Afghan Parliament suggested that the stability and peace of Afghanistan was in the interests of Pakistan, and that Kabul should go ahead with the security pact with the U.S. if it will contribute.
Officials in Kabul have been busy negotiating the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S., which would ensure foreign troops stay in Afgahnistan after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014 and that Washington's aid money continues to flow.
A Loya Jirga approved the BSA last month, and voted in favor of President Hamid Karzai signing the accord before the end of the year.
Member of the Pakistani delegation Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao expressed his support for Afghanistan's decision on the BSA, and its right to sign such an agreement.
"This is totally the internal matter of Afghanistan, the loya Jirga endorsed the signing of the security agreement and Afghanistan is a sovereign country," Pakistani MP Sherpao said. "We just want peace and security in this country and we will support any decision taken by the Afghan government."
Sherpao's comments come in sharp contrast to those that have been floated by counterparts in Iran, Afghanistan's other neighbor. Tehran has condemned the BSA, and said it would be against foreign troops remaining in Afghanistan after next year.
However, with President Karzai refusing to sign the BSA before the elections in April, and until the U.S. meets his preconditions of advancing peace talks with the Taliban and ending raids on Afghan homes, it is uncertain if the agreement even needs third-party opposition to flop.
"We thank our Pakistani friends for their support on the BSA and for realizing the fact that Afghanistan is a soverign country and has the right to sign an economic or security agreement with any country in line with with its national interests," First Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament MIrwais Yasini said.
This is the eleventh meeting with the Pakistani Parliamentary delegation held in order to evaluate ways to foster greater cooperation between Islamabad and Kabul and ease tensions that have long simmered.
"Both governments should respect the people's voice and avoid differences and not allow their territories to be used against each other," Yasini said. "War has been imposed on us and it must be stopped."
Kabul has always criticized Islamabad of not pursuing sincere and truthful policies towards Afghanistan.
Its believed that Pakistan maintains a crucial influence over the armed insurgents in Afghanistan and Kabul has faith that Islamabad retains the ability to kickstart peace negotiations.
This week, the visiting delegation and their counterparts agreed to hold the next meeting in Islamabad. They agreed that Afghanistan and Pakistan should sign a Strategic Cooperation Partnership Agreement to further energize bilateral ties.
"The commitments which were made in this meeting would be referred to our parliament and onward to government institutions to abide by them," Pakistani Senator Afrasyab Khatak said.