India decries Pak role in Afghan peace process

PM likely to address Afghan Parliament during his visit

During a visit of the Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to Afghanistan last week, Islamabad and Kabul formally agreed to set up a two-tier Pak-Afghan Joint Peace Commission, which will have the top officials of the two countries’ military establishments, including the chiefs of the intelligence agencies.

The move is seen in New Delhi as Islamabad’s ploy to have the Pakistani Army and the ISI embedded in the peace-process with Taliban.

Sources said that India would convey to Afghanistan its concerns over Pakistan’s move to ensure ISI’s greater role in the peace-process with Taliban, when Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jaweed Ludin will visit New Delhi next week for consultations with Indian officials ahead of Singh’s visit to Kabul.

Though New Delhi has not yet formally announced the dates of Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan, sources said that it would possibly happen before the monsoon session of the Parliament in July.

Singh is likely to address the Afghan Parliament, in addition to review India’s humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in the conflict-ravaged country in a meeting with President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.

Gilani was accompanied by Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani and the ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha during his visit to Kabul. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar were also on the delegation that accompanied Gilani to Kabul.

A Pak-Afghan Joint Peace Commission was conceived when Afghanistan’s former President and chief of its High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, visited Islamabad in January this year and met Gilani, Kayani and other religious and political leaders.

Gilani, Kayani’s visit

But, it was during the visit of Gilani and Kayani to Afghanistan that the two sides formally gave shape to the two-tier commission, with Islamabad apparently prevailing upon Kabul to ensure a more direct role of the Pakistani military establishment and the ISI in the peace-process with Taliban in Afghanistan.

While New Delhi understands that Pakistan cannot be kept out of a peace-effort with Taliban, it is particularly concerned over the move to give the ISI a bigger role in the process, as it goes well in line with Islamabad’s pursuit to get “strategic depth” in Afghanistan.

Afghan-led peace process

New Delhi has been in favour of an Afghan-led peace-process with Taliban and is likely to reaffirm its stand, while conveying its concerns to Ludin.

While talking to journalists in Kabul, Gilani claimed to have the US President Barack Obama’s endorsement in the joint move by Pakistan and Afghanistan to the peace-process with Taliban.

However, New Delhi is still waiting for the official word from Washington and is keen to see how the latter reacts to the greater role of the ISI in the peace-process in Afghanistan, particularly after Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US, recent charges against the ISI.

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