ISLAMABAD - Despite recent statements by senior Afghan officials against Pakistan, Islamabad will continue the policy of utmost restraint and would not engage in a media war with Afghanistan, sources said on Monday.

According to well-placed sources in the Foreign Office, Islamabad would continue its efforts to develop friendly relations with Afghanistan and was committed to help establish lasting peace and stability in the neighbouring country.

Rejecting the notions that Pakistan has favourites in Afghanistan, the sources maintained that Islamabad recognizes the Northern Alliance, the Taliban, Afghan government and the United States as key stakeholders for amicable resolution of Afghan conflict.

The sources were of the view that in the Doha process, America has also recognized the Taliban as legitimate entity and stakeholder in the Afghanistan solution. The sources said that Pakistan would change its policy about Afghanistan after the US-led NATO and other foreign troops pull from the insurgency-ridden country by 2014.

About Pakistan’s role in reconciliation process, the sources said that Islamabad will continue facilitating the reconciliation process and hoped that the Doha process would soon resume in the interest of peace in Afghanistan and the entire region.

“Pakistan is committed to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, and will extend all possible help so that reconciliation process bears fruits,” a senior official said requesting not to be named.

As regards the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan after withdrawal of the US troops, the sources said that all the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan including Pakistan should play their due role in stabilizing Afghanistan. They said that Pakistan was fully committed to prevent a tragedy like the current militant blowback after the Soviet War from occurring again after NATO troops exit from Afghanistan in 2014.

The sources, however, ruled out any role for India arguing that such role should be left for Afghanistan’s immediate neghbouring countries.

On Pakistan’s relations with the United States, the sources said that Pakistan was struggling to rebuild relations with the US largely based on economic interest. They were of the view that Pakistan wants free access of its products to the US markets as well as US investment in Pakistan.

The sources further said Pakistan and the United States were working together to resume their strategic dialogue at the earliest, adding that progress of various bilateral working groups set up for cooperation in different fields would be reviewed only after resumption of the strategic dialogue process. 

They, however, categorically rejected that Pakistan would at all accept the US demand to abandon Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline project. “Pakistan needs gas to meet its national needs, therefore, there is no question of bowing down to pressure from any country,” they added.

About Pakistan’s relations with India, the sources said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was keen to normalize relations with India and the two neighbouring countries should resolve all the bilateral disputes including core issue of Kashmir through peace means.

They further said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh are expected to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September to decide about resuming the strategic dialogue process between the two countries. They were of the opinion that the expected meeting between the two prime ministers would help set the course of strategic dialogue process at all levels.

About Prime Minister’s recent visit to China, sources said it was very productive visit as it largely focused on increasing economic cooperation between the two friendly neighbours.

“Three major state owned Chinese banks will establish a special fund for Chinese companies for investment in Pakistan”, sources said, hoping that materialization of Chinese investment in Pakistan’s various sectors including energy and communications would change the landscape of Pakistan.