ISLAMABAD - Jan Kubis, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative (SRSG) for Afghanistan, Wednesday called on Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs, and updated him about the UN role with regard to the electoral process and political transition.

The adviser reiterated that a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s vital interest. Emphasising Pakistan’s policy of non-interference, he underscored Pakistan’s support for a peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan through completion of the remaining steps in the electoral process in a timely manner and fulfilment of the commitments made by the two presidential candidates. He reiterated the hope that Afghanistan would emerge stronger and more unified at the culmination of this process. The adviser also stressed the importance of deeper engagement of the United Nations and the international community in the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan.

Jan Kubis also called on Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and exchanged views on Afghanistan and regional processes. The foreign secretary highlighted Pakistan’s continued commitment to support efforts for Afghanistan’s stability and the regional endeavours for economic development. He also reiterated the imperative need for the international community to assist in the creation of conducive conditions for the early return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and their sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan.

During the meetings, UNAMA’s role in capacity-building and technical assistance in Afghanistan, under the leadership of SRSG Jan Kubis, was appreciated.

NO TALKS SANS KASHMIR

ISSUE: AZIZ

APP adds: Pakistan on Wednesday said that peace talks with India cannot take place without addressing the long- standing dispute of Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir. Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz while talking to Voice of America alleged that New Delhi attempts to sideline the issue of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir is ‘unrealistic.’ According to VOA, tensions in the region have been rising since last week when New Delhi abruptly called off the long-awaited meeting with Islamabad as military clashes along Line of Control continued. The VOA said that the recent heavy military clashes in the area have killed civilians on both sides and according to officials, top Pakistani and Indian army commanders mutually agreed to defuse tensions during a call on their telephone “hotline” links.

Pakistani and Indian foreign secretaries were scheduled to meet on August 28 in Islamabad, but New Delhi cancelled the visit of its Foreign Secretary to Islamabad after Pakistan’s ambassador to India met with Kashmiri leaders from Indian occupied Kashmir. Aziz said that Islamabad offered talks to New Delhi in ‘good faith,’ adding that holding a dialogue without addressing the Kashmir issue is unacceptable to Pakistan. “If they make conditions [that] are unrealistic, then of course it will require more time and more effort [to hold dialogue],” he said. He said, “All we are doing is appealing to the international community that dialogue between Islamabad and India is necessary for peace in the region, and therefore they should take notice and share our disappointment that these talks have been suspended on very flimsy grounds.”

Aziz said that Pakistani officials have met with leaders from the Indian portion of IoK in the past and New Delhi has not objected until now.

The VOA said that Pakistan and India have made significant progress in improving bilateral trade, economic and cultural ties in recent years.

Aziz said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shown a determination to maintain the momentum to achieve his primary goal of stabilising Pakistan economically. He said that the PM even accepted an invitation to attend Modi’s inauguration, the first Pakistani leader to do so.

Bilateral diplomatic contacts have remained suspended since January 2013 when Indian officials accused Pakistani troops of crossing the IoK border and killing five of their soldiers, charges Islamabad rejected as baseless.

Both the neighbouring nations have fought two of three wars over the disputed Himalayan region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.