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Afghan, Indian, Pakistani officials discuss strengthening ties

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AT-KABUL: Afghan, Indian and Pakistani officials attended the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival in India where they discussed different issues including ways to strengthen ties between the three neighbors, media reports said the other day.

Former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri expressed the need for a “high degree of optimism” in dealing with relations between India and Pakistan, while former Indian diplomat G Parthasarathy called for “a halt in border firing” to ensure the continuation of meaningful dialogues. “You cannot have a dialogue when bullets are flying.

Nobody hears the sound of the dialogue everyone hears the sound of the bullet,” Parthsarthi said. Kasuri and Parthasarathy were participating in a session titled “Descent into Chaos-Pakistan on the Brink” at the festival. Ahmed Rashid, an expert on foreign policy who has authored several books about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, pointed out that both of India’s neighbours had been through a crisis in recent times.

Commenting on the recent elections in Afghanistan, which took place in the midst of a massive Taliban offensive, Rashid said, “Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have dramatically improved and chances are there that Afghanistan may enter into dialogue with the Afghan Taliban.” “It can happen only if Pakistani military push for it because most of the Taliban leadership live in Pakistan. Pakistani military has to push Taliban into the dialogue,” Rashid said.

He pointed out that the Peshawar attack, which left nearly 150 school children dead last month served as “a horrible warning” galvanizing political parties, government, military to come together on a common platform against extremism. “They have established a long term plan which not just deals with military aspects of terrorism but also with education, jobs, madarsa and other such things,” he said.